Quantum Biology Revisited

Quantum Biology Revisited

Quantum biology is an emerging subject that explores the fundamental role of quantum mechanics in biological processes. In particular, light-harvesting energy transfer, the first step of photosynthesis, has attracted much attention because of its nearly perfect efficiency.  The possible role of quantum coherence in energy transfer has stimulated the conceptual development of ‘quantum biology’ and remains intensively debated in the community. [1] This talk will review recent efforts to address the intriguing question.

Given that closely packed pigment-protein complexes are ubiquitous in photosynthetic organisms, the concept of quantum coherence is likely a recurring theme in light-harvesting systems.  I will explain how quantum coherence can be properly defined and how it facilitates the remarkable efficient and robust energy transfer in photosynthesis. [2] Remarkably, nature does not avoid dephasing but exploits it via engineering of exciton-bath interaction to create efficient energy flow. These structure-function relationships observed in natural systems can provide useful insights to guide the optimal design of artificial energy devices. [3]

[1] Quantum biology revisited, Science Advances 6, 1-11 (2020).

[2] Steady-state analysis of light-harvesting energy transfer driven by incoherent light: From dimers to networks

JPC Lett. 11, 7204-7211 (2020); Generic mechanism of optimal energy transfer efficiency: A scaling theory of the mean first-passage time in exciton systems  PRL 110, 200402 (2013)

[3] Unusual dynamical properties of disordered polaritons in microcavities. PRB105 (6), 064205 (2022)