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Proceedings Paper

Quantum effects in biological systems
Author(s): Mohan Sarovar
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Paper Abstract

Identification of non-trivial quantum mechanical effects in the functioning of biological systems has been a long-standing and elusive goal in the fields of physics, chemistry and biology. Recent progress in control and measurement technologies, especially in the optical spectroscopy domain, have made possible the identification of such effects. In particular, electronic coherence was recently shown to survive for relatively long times in photosynthetic light harvesting complexes despite the effects of noisy biomolecular environments. Motivated by this experimental discovery, several recent studies have combined techniques from quantum information, quantum dynamical theory and chemical physics to characterize the extent and nature of quantum dynamics in light harvesting structures. I will review these results and summarize our understanding of the subtle quantum effects in photosynthetic complexes. Then I will outline the remarkable properties of light harvesting complexes that allow quantum effects to be significant at dynamically relevant timescales, despite the decohering biomolecular environment. Finally, I will conclude by discussing the implications of quantum effects in light harvesting complexes, and in biological systems in general.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 February 2010
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 7561, Optical Biopsy VII, 75610D (12 February 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.841015
Show Author Affiliations
Mohan Sarovar, Univ. of California, Berkeley (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7561:
Optical Biopsy VII
Robert R. Alfano, Editor(s)

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