The fast transfer of solar energy to electrochemical energy in photosynthesis means little energy is wasted as heat and is made possible by quantum coherence.
Quantum mechanical effects are thought to be the key to the almost instantaneously transfer of solar energy from molecules in light harvesting complexes to molecules in electrochemical reaction centers during photosynthesis.
Now, Graham Fleming and co-workers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA, USA, and the University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, have quantified the quantum entanglement in photosynthesis.
They report a method of calculating entanglement by describing the necessary and sufficient conditions for entanglement and by deriving a measure of global entanglement.
They found numerical evidence for the existence of entanglement in the Fenna–Matthews–Olson protein (FMO) that persisted over picosecond timescales and distances of about 30 angstroms despite the decohering effects of their complex, coupled, many-body environment.
- Quantum entanglement in photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes
M. Sarovar, A. Ishizaki, G. Fleming, K. B. Whaley,
Nat. Phys. 2010, Advance Online Article (published 25 April 2010)