Biologiaa on näihin aikoihin saakka pidetty lähinnä makromaailman ja siten klassisen fysiikan ilmiöjoukkona. Kasvien ja eläinten maailmassa on kuitenkin paljon kummallisuuksia, jotka eivät selity klassisesti vaan tarvitaan kvanttimekaniikkaa. Muutamalla lauseella kvanttibiologian nykytila on tiivistetty seuraavasti:
Recent evidence has recently emerged that plants use a form of quantum computing to calculate how best to direct energy through their photosynthetic apparatus. Scientists have also discovered that birds, insects and other animals appear to use entanglement (what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” to detect the earth’s magnetic field). And there is solid evidence that enzymes, those metabolic workhorses that drive much of the action in our cells, use the process known as quantum tunnelling to accelerate chemical reactions. We may even use quantum mechanics to smell! Writing in the prestigious UK-based science journal Nature, Philip Ball announced “The Dawn of Quantum Biology”; whereas, in Scientific American, Vlatko Vedral writes about “Living in a Quantum World”. Centres of quantum theoreticians and experimentalists on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to understand how fragile quantum mechanical phenomena previously thought to be confined to highly rarefied laboratory systems at temperatures close to absolute zero, manage to survive in the wet, warm biological world.
Hyvin paljon laajempi katsaus kvanttifysiikan ja biologian kohtaamisesta löytyy täältä:
Uusi tutkimustulos fotonien tehokkaasta kvanttimekaanisesta ohjautumisesta fotosynteesin reaktiokeskuksiin:
In photosynthesis sunlight is captured and transported by highly specialised antenna proteins. Surprisingly these proteins act as quantum machines and use a quantum transport mechanism to efficiently guide the light and finally store the energy in their reaction centres. Researchers from ICFO -- the Institute of Photonic Science in Barcelona have for the first time tracked this energy flow in individual proteins and discovered that the quantum coherences makes the light flow in the antenna protein immune to the ubiquitous external natural turmoil.
The quantum phenomenon responsible, known as coherence, is manifested in so-called photosynthetic antenna proteins that are responsible for absorption of sunlight and energy transport to the photochemical reaction centers of photosynthesis.
"We have been able to observe how energy flows through sunlight absorbing photosynthetic systems with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. This allowed us to observe the fundamental role of quantum effects in photosynthesis at ambient conditions" explains Richard Hildner, first author of the publication.
The most surprising discovery was that the transport paths within single proteins can vary over time due to changes in the environmental conditions, apparently adapting for optimal efficiency. "These results show that coherence, a genuine quantum effect of superposition of states, is responsible for maintaining high levels of transport efficiency in biological systems, even while they adapt their energy transport pathways due to environmental influences" says van Hulst.