Quantum biology revisited

Jianshu Cao, Richard J. Cogdell, David F. Coker, Hong Guang Duan, Jürgen Hauer, Ulrich Kleinekathöfer, Thomas L.C. Jansen, Tomáš Mančal, R. J. Dwayne Miller*, Jennifer P. Ogilvie, Valentyn I. Prokhorenko, Thomas Renger, Howe Siang Tan, Roel Tempelaar, Michael Thorwart, Erling Thyrhaug, Sebastian Westenhoff, Donatas Zigmantas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Photosynthesis is a highly optimized process from which valuable lessons can be learned about the operating principles in nature. Its primary steps involve energy transport operating near theoretical quantum limits in efficiency. Recently, extensive research was motivated by the hypothesis that nature used quantum coherences to direct energy transfer. This body of work, a cornerstone for the field of quantum biology, rests on the interpretation of small-amplitude oscillations in two-dimensional electronic spectra of photosynthetic complexes. This Review discusses recent work reexamining these claims and demonstrates that interexciton coherences are too short lived to have any functional significance in photosynthetic energy transfer. Instead, the observed long-lived coherences originate from impulsively excited vibrations, generally observed in femtosecond spectroscopy. These efforts, collectively, lead to a more detailed understanding of the quantum aspects of dissipation. Nature, rather than trying to avoid dissipation, exploits it via engineering of exciton-bath interaction to create efficient energy flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaaz4888
JournalScience Advances
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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