Public Lecture - April 17, 2014

K. Birgitta Whaley, University of Berkeley, California

Topic: Quantum Biology----Old Roots and New Shoots

ABSTRACT: Quantum coherence in Biology what is this and why is it interesting? Recent years have seen mounting evidence for the existence of dynamical phenomena in biological systems that involve coherent quantum motion, requiring us to revise the long standing view of quantum effects in biology being restricted to understanding of molecular energetics, stability and kinetics. I shall summarize the range of these novel phenomena and their experimental evidence, then focus on the occurrence of quantum coherent electronic dynamics in the highly efficient light-harvesting step of photosynthesis. I shall describe the nature of this coherence and its relation to the non-local quantum correlations characteristic of quantum entanglement, a key non-trivial quantum effect. I shall also address the open question of whether such quantum coherence plays a biological role and how this might be evaluated.