Quantum biology

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Quantum biology refers to applications of quantum mechanics to biological objects and problems. Usually, it is taken to refer to applications of the "non-trivial" quantum features such as superposition, nonlocality, entanglement and tunneling, as opposed to the "trivial" but ubiquitous quantum mechanical nature of chemical bonding, ionization, and other phenomena that are the basis of the fundamental biophysics and biochemistry of organisms.

Austrian-born physicist and theoretical biologist Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum theory in physics, was also one of the first scientists to suggest a study of quantum biology in his 1944 book What Is Life?.

Applications[edit]

Many biological processes involve the conversion of energy into forms that are usable for chemical transformations and are quantum mechanical in nature. Such processes involve chemical reactions, light absorption, formation of excited electronic states, transfer of excitation energy, and the transfer of electrons and protons (hydrogen ions) in chemical processes such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration.[1] Quantum biology uses computation to model biological interactions in light of quantum mechanical effects.[2]

Some examples of the biological phenomena that have been studied in terms of quantum processes are the absorbance of frequency-specific radiation (i.e., photosynthesis[3] and vision[4]); the conversion of chemical energy into motion;[5] magnetoreception in animals,[6][7][8][9] DNA mutation[10] and brownian motors in many cellular processes.[11]

Recent studies have identified quantum coherence and entanglement between the excited states of different pigments in the light-harvesting stage of photosynthesis.[12][13] Although this stage of photosynthesis is highly efficient, it remains unclear exactly how or if these quantum effects are relevant biologically.[14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Quantum Biology. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group. http://www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/quantum_biology/
  2. ^ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070116133617.htm Science Daily Quantum Biology: Powerful Computer Models Reveal Key Biological Mechanism Retrieved Oct 14, 2007
  3. ^ Quantum Secrets of Photosynthesis Revealed
  4. ^ Garab, G. (1999). Photosynthesis: Mechanisms and Effects: Proceedings of the XIth International Congress on Photosynthesis. Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7923-5547-2. 
  5. ^ Levine, Raphael D. (2005). Molecular Reaction Dynamics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 16–18. ISBN 978-0-521-84276-1. 
  6. ^ Binhi, Vladimir N. (2002). Magnetobiology: Underlying Physical Problems. Academic Press. pp. 14–16. ISBN 978-0-12-100071-4. 
  7. ^ Iannis Kominis: "Quantum Zeno effect explains magnetic-sensitive radical-ion-pair reactions", Physical Review E 80, 056115 (2009) (abstract)
  8. ^ Iannis Kominis: "Radical-ion-pair reactions are the biochemical equivalent of the optical double-slit experiment", Physical Review E 83, 056118 (2011) (abstract)
  9. ^ Erik M. Gauger, Elisabeth Rieper, John J. L. Morton, Simon C. Benjamin, Vlatko Vedral: Sustained quantum coherence and entanglement in the avian compass, Physics Review Letters, vol. 106, no. 4, 040503 (2011) (abstract, preprint)
  10. ^ Lowdin, P.O. (1965) Quantum genetics and the aperiodic solid. Some aspects on the Biological problems of heredity, mutations, aging and tumours in view of the quantum theory of the DNA molecule. Advances in Quantum Chemistry. Volume 2. pp213-360. Academic Press
  11. ^ Harald Krug; Harald Brune, Gunter Schmid, Ulrich Simon, Viola Vogel, Daniel Wyrwa, Holger Ernst, Armin Grunwald, Werner Grunwald, Heinrich Hofmann (2006). Nanotechnology: Assessment and Perspectives. Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & Co. K. pp. 197–240. ISBN 978-3-540-32819-3. 
  12. ^ Sarovar, Mohan; Ishizaki, Akihito; Fleming, Graham R.; Whaley, K. Birgitta (2010). "Quantum entanglement in photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes". Nature Physics 6 (6): 462–467. arXiv:0905.3787. Bibcode:2010NatPh...6..462S. doi:10.1038/nphys1652 . 
  13. ^ Engel GS, Calhoun TR, Read EL, Ahn TK, Mancal T, Cheng YC et al. (2007). "Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems.". Nature 446 (7137): 782–6. Bibcode:2007Natur.446..782E. doi:10.1038/nature05678 . PMID 17429397. 
  14. ^ Scholes GS (2010). "Quantum-Coherent Electronic Energy Transfer: Did Nature Think of It First?". Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 1: 2–8. doi:10.1021/jz900062f . 

Further reading[edit]

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