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Quantum biology revisited

Journal article
Authors J. S. Cao
R. J. Cogdell
D. F. Coker
H. G. Duan
J. Hauer
U. Kleinekathofer
T. L. C. Jansen
T. Mancal
R. J. D. Miller
J. P. Ogilvie
V. I. Prokhorenko
T. Renger
H. S. Tan
R. Tempelaar
M. Thorwart
E. Thyrhaug
Sebastian Westenhoff
D. Zigmantas
Published in Science Advances
Volume 6
Issue 14
Pages 11
ISSN 2375-2548
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 11
Language en
Keywords excitation-energy transfer, 2-dimensional electronic spectroscopy, reduced density-matrices, matthews-olson complex, fmo antenna protein, time evolution, prosthecochloris-aestuarii, semiclassical description, exciton delocalization, chlorobaculum-tepidum, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories Biophysics


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.

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