Thursday, April 26, 2012
Physics Research Conference
Quantum Coherence in Photosynthesis
Birgitta Whaley, UC Berkeley
Birgitta Whaley, Professor of Chemistry, UC Berkeley
Discussion of quantum mechanical effects in biology is generally restricted to molecular energetics, stability, and kinetics as determined by potential energy barriers. In recent years however, an increasing number of experiments have shown evidence for the existence of dynamical phenomena in biological systems that involve coherent quantum motion. One prominent instance is electronic quantum coherence in photosynthesis. I shall present theoretical studies that analyze the nature of this coherence, its relation to the non-local quantum correlations characteristic of entanglement, implications for relevance of quantum information processing in natural systems and show how methods of quantum and chemical control provide novel means to probe the underlying dynamical phenomena. I shall also address the question of whether and how such quantum coherence might result in a biological advantage.