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Quantum biology


Recent evidence suggests that a variety of organisms may harness some of the unique features of quantum mechanics to gain a biological advantage. These features go beyond trivial quantum effects and may include harnessing quantum coherence on physiologically important timescales. In this brief review we summarize the latest results for non-trivial quantum effects in photosynthetic light harvesting, avian magnetoreception and several other candidates for functional quantum biology. We present both the evidence for and arguments against there being a functional role for quantum coherence in these systems.

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Figure 1: A quantum machine for efficient light-energy harvesting.
Figure 2: The avian quantum compass.


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We thank A. Pisliakov, L. Valkunas, E. Gauger, P. Nation, S. Darroch, I. Mahboob, A. Y. Smirnov, A. Ishizaki, K. Jacobs and S. De Liberato for helpful discussions and feedback. Y-C.C. thanks the National Science Council, Taiwan (Grant No. NSC 100-2113-M-002-004-MY2), the National Taiwan University (Grant No. 10R80912-5) and the Center for Quantum Science and Engineering (Subproject: 10R80914-1) for financial support. Y-N.C. thanks the National Science Council, Taiwan (Grant No. NSC 101-2628-M-006-003-MY3) for financial support. F.N. acknowledges partial support from the ARO, JSPS-RFBR contract No. 12-02-92100, MEXT Kakenhi on Quantum Cybernetics and the JSPS-FIRST Program. C-M.L thanks the National Science Council, Taiwan (No. NSC 101-2112-M-006-016-MY3, No. NSC 101-2738-M-006-005 and No. NSC 103-2911-I-006 -301) for financial support.

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Correspondence to Neill Lambert or Franco Nori.

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Lambert, N., Chen, YN., Cheng, YC. et al. Quantum biology. Nature Phys 9, 10–18 (2013).

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