Discovery: Photosynthesis may be Quantum Effect Driven


PhysOrg has a summary of new research suggesting that the near instantaneous energy transfer achieved by photosynthesis may rely on quantum effects. From the article:

“Through photosynthesis, green plants and cyanobacteria are able to transfer sunlight energy to molecular reaction centers for conversion into chemical energy with nearly 100-percent efficiency. Speed is the key — the transfer of the solar energy takes place almost instantaneously so little energy is wasted as heat. How photosynthesis achieves this near instantaneous energy transfer is a long-standing mystery that may have finally been solved.”

If this holds, it may mean that we’ll be able to create artificial photosynthesis ourselves, and could be a huge gain for the solar power industry.

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April 13, 2007 8:52 pm

I would have to see the calculation to know what they meant; the measurements were made at 77K and I am not sure this is more than a statement that some of the energy levels of the singlet state can be resolved at that temperature.
Anyway photosynthesis overall conversion efficiency is 5-15% which is very good – the remarkable thing to me is the consistency of it. The slowest step (weak link) in the whole process is the first one – equilibration of carbon dioxide in water solution

David Walton
April 13, 2007 10:24 pm

Dang, Anthony, there is no getting ahead of you, I was going to send you this or post a link.
This sort of basic science research is the bedrock of modern civilization. Will super efficient bio-quantum solar cells be in our future? I hope I will be around long enough to find out.

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