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
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 DOE’s 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. “If you think of photosynthesis as a marathon, we’re getting a snapshot of what a runner looks like just as he leaves the blocks,” said Argonne biochemist David Tiede. “We’re seeing the potential for a much more fundamental interaction than a lot of people previously considered.”
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?” he said.