Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Ultrafast technique unlocks design principles of quantum biology

University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the complex quantum dynamics observed in photosynthesis. The compound may enable fundamentally new routes to creative solar light harvesting technologies.

Credit: Graham Griffin
University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the complex quantum dynamics observed in photosynthesis. The compound may enable fundamentally new routes to creative solar light harvesting technologies.

Credit: Graham Griffin

Abstract:
University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the complex quantum dynamics observed in photosynthesis and may enable fundamentally new routes to creating solar-energy technologies. Engineering quantum effects into synthetic light-harvesting devices is not only possible, but also easier than anyone expected, the researchers report in the April 18 edition of Science Express.

Ultrafast technique unlocks design principles of quantum biology

Chicago, IL | Posted on April 21st, 2013

The researchers have engineered small molecules that support long-lived quantum coherences. Coherences are the macroscopically observable behavior of quantum superpositions. Superpositions are a fundamental quantum mechanical concept, exemplified by the classic Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment, in which a single quantum particle such as an electron occupies more than one state simultaneously.

Quantum effects are generally negligible in large, hot, disordered systems. Nevertheless, the recent ultrafast spectroscopy experiments in UChicago chemistry Prof. Greg Engel's laboratory have shown that quantum superpositions may play a role in the near perfect quantum efficiency of photosynthetic light harvesting, even at physiological temperatures.

Photosynthetic antennae - the proteins that organize chlorophylls and other light-absorbing molecules in plants and bacteria - support superpositions that survive for anomalously long times. Many researchers have proposed that organisms have evolved a means of protecting these superpositions. The result: improved efficiency in transferring energy from absorbed sunlight to the parts of the cell that convert solar energy to chemical energy. The newly reported results demonstrate that his particular manifestation of quantum mechanics can be engineered into man-made compounds.

The researchers modified fluorescein - the same molecule once used to dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day - and then linked different pairs of these dyes together using a rigid bridging structure. The resulting molecules were able to recreate the important properties of chlorophyll molecules in photosynthetic systems that cause coherences to persist for tens of femtoseconds at room temperature.

"That may not sound like a very long time - a femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second," said study co-author Dugan Hayes, a UChicago graduate student in chemistry. "But the movement of excitations through these systems also occurs on this ultrafast timescale, meaning that these quantum superpositions can play an important role in energy transfer."

To detect evidence of long-lived superpositions, the researchers created a movie of energy flow in the molecules using highly engineered laboratories and state-of-the-art femtosecond laser systems. Three precisely controlled laser pulses are directed into the sample, causing it to emit an optical signal that is captured and directed into a camera.

By scanning the time delays between the arriving laser pulses, the researchers create a movie of energy flow in the system, encoded as a series two-dimensional spectra. Each two-dimensional spectrum is a single frame of the movie, and contains information about where energy resides in the system and what pathways it has followed to get there.

These movies show relaxation from high energy states toward lower energy states as time proceeds, as well as oscillating signals in very specific regions of the signal, or quantum beats. "Quantum beats are the signature of quantum coherence, arising from the interference between the different energetic states in the superposition, similar to the beating heard when two instruments that are slightly out of tune with each other try to play the same note," Hayes explained.

Computer simulations have shown that quantum coherences work in photosynthetic antennae to prevent excitations from getting trapped on their way to the reaction center, where the conversion to chemical energy begins. In one interpretation, as the excitation moves through the antenna, it remains in a superposition of all possible paths at once, making it inevitable that it proceeds down the proper path. "Until these coherences were observed in synthetic systems, it remained dubious that such a complex phenomenon could be recreated outside of nature," Hayes said.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Steve Koppes

773-702-8366

Copyright © University of Chicago

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Smaller, faster, cheaper: A new type of modulator for the future of data transmission July 27th, 2015

Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point July 27th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Provides Update on PCAOB Audited Financials July 27th, 2015

Discoveries

Smart hydrogel coating creates 'stick-slip' control of capillary action July 27th, 2015

Smaller, faster, cheaper: A new type of modulator for the future of data transmission July 27th, 2015

Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point July 27th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Announcements

Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point July 27th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Provides Update on PCAOB Audited Financials July 27th, 2015

Global Corrosion Resistant Nano Coatings Market To 2015: Acute Market Reports July 27th, 2015

Energy

Smaller, faster, cheaper: A new type of modulator for the future of data transmission July 27th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Provides Update on PCAOB Audited Financials July 27th, 2015

Ultra-thin hollow nanocages could reduce platinum use in fuel cell electrodes July 24th, 2015

Nanobiotechnology

Spintronics: Molecules stabilizing magnetism: Organic molecules fixing the magnetic orientation of a cobalt surface/ building block for a compact and low-cost storage technology/ publication in Nature Materials July 25th, 2015

Programming adult stem cells to treat muscular dystrophy and more by mimicking nature July 22nd, 2015

Biophotonics - Global Strategic Business Report 2015 July 21st, 2015

Rare form: Novel structures built from DNA emerge July 20th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Rice University finding could lead to cheap, efficient metal-based solar cells: Plasmonics study suggests how to maximize production of 'hot electrons' July 22nd, 2015

Perovskite solar technology shows quick energy returns: New technology beats current solar panel technology in life-cycle energy assessment July 20th, 2015

Nanowires give 'solar fuel cell' efficiency a tenfold boost: Eindhoven researchers make important step towards a solar cell that generates hydrogen July 17th, 2015

Quantum nanoscience

Drawing a line between quantum and classical world: Bell's Inequality fails as a test of the boundary July 21st, 2015

World first: Significant development in the understanding of macroscopic quantum behavior: Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal and Imperial College London demonstrate the wavelike quantum behavior of a polariton condensate on a macroscopic scale and at room temperature July 14th, 2015

The quantum physics of artificial light harvesting: How molecular vibrations make photosynthesis efficient July 13th, 2015

A 'movie' of ultrafast rotating molecules at a hundred billion per second: A quantum wave-like nature was successfully observed in rotating nitrogen molecules July 4th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project