Unusual Quantum Effect Discovered in Photosynthesis
Quantum physics and plant biology seem like two branches of science that could not be more different, but surprisingly they may in fact be intimately tied. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame used ultrafast spectroscopy to see what happens at the subatomic level during the very first stage of photosynthesis.
The quantum effects observed in the course of the experiment hint that the natural light-harvesting processes involved in photosynthesis may be more efficient than previously indicated by classical biophysics, said chemist Gary Wiederrecht of Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials. “It leaves us wondering: how did Mother Nature create this incredibly elegant solution?” The result of the study could significantly influence efforts by chemists and nanoscientists to create artificial materials and devices that can imitate natural photosynthetic systems.