Quantum Biology

FMOThe co-founders of quantum theory, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schroedinger, predicted 60 years ago that an entirely new picture of biology would emerge when quantum theory came to be applied to it, saying: "Most biologists today still use the language and the way of thinking of classical mechanics; that is, they describe their molecules as if the parts of the molecules were just stones or something like that [...] but I feel that sooner or later, also in biology, one will come to realize that this simple use of pictures, models, and so on will not be quite correct."

Experimental physics, and spectroscopy in particular, is defining a new field called quantum biology by the observation of the wavelike propagation of electrons though photosynthetic molecules and other organic compounds. The so-called electronic quantum coherences enable light-harvesting proteins to absorb light and to transport light-energy in the form of excitons to a reaction centre with near-perfect efficiency, unmatched by artificial systems.

Classical models, where the exciton hopping is represented by a classical stochastic diffusion equation, cannot explain such a high degree of efficiency, which yields a quantum mechanical picture as a plausible explanation.

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