Thanks to femtosecond lasers, quantum mechanical processes continue to provide evidence of their existence in biological systems. Nature recently published news of an international team of researchers detecting an incredibly efficient mechanism happening during photosynthesis in plants. The scientists believe that this efficiency can only be achieved in quantum mechanical systems.
Wired Science explains:
Scholes’ team experimented on an antenna protein called PC645, already imaged at the atomic scale in earlier studies. That precise characterization allowed them to target molecules with laser pulses lasting for one-quadrillionth of a second, or just long enough to set single electrons spinning.
By analyzing changes to a laser beam sent through the protein immediately afterwards, the researchers were able to extrapolate what was happening inside — an ultra-high-tech version of shadows on a screen. They found that energy patterns in distant molecules fluctuated in ways that betrayed a connection to each other, something only possible through quantum coherence.
More at Wired Science: Everywhere in a Flash: The Quantum Physics of Photosynthesis…
Letter in Nature: Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature
Related article in arXiv: Long-lived quantum coherence in photosynthetic complexes at physiological temperature
Image: Darrren Hester: Abstract background of colorful leaves created using Fractalius.