Nature Quantum Information paper shines a light on quantum bacteria

Last updated November 30, 2018 by Andrew Brown

There is a long and heated debate on whether or not biological processes such as light harvesting and photosynthesis might be due to fundamental quantum processes. Erwin Schroedinger, himself one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, discussed applications of quantum mechanics to biology in his landmark book ‘What life?’ already in 1944!

While a conclusive answer to such a tantalising question is still in need of unquestionable experimental evidence, a recent collaboration between Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Oxford University and Queen’s University Belfast has shown the possibility to investigate the possible quantum nature of biological systems using an approach based on quantum information. The investigation, which included CTAMOP Director of Research Mauro Paternostro, has produced a scheme capable of revealing non-classical features of bacteria with only minimal knowledge of their working features and the way they interact with their surrounding environment.

The scheme puts the bacteria in a role of mediators of quantum entanglement, one of the genuine traits of quantum physics, between different light fields. The proposed method to investigate quantum features in biological samples appears to be very close to current experimental capabilities and may offer a new information-theoretical route to the resolution of an almost 70-year old question!


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