Date of Graduation

8-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Department

Chemistry & Biochemistry

Advisor/Mentor

Gea-Banacloche, Julio

Committee Member/Reader

Aloia, Lindsey

Committee Member/Second Reader

Kilyanek, Stefan

Committee Member/Third Reader

Millett, Francis

Abstract

Photosynthesis in living organisms is one of the most efficient, natural energy harvesting processes on Earth. The absorption of light energy as photons directly energizes electrons in metabolite molecules. These molecules transfer their high energy electrons through a chain system to provide the energy needed for carbon dioxide metabolism. Recently, it has been a subject of debate how this energy transfer via electron transport achieved such high efficiency. One hypothesis is that this transfer system displays fundamentally quantum mechanical behaviors, such as coherence. Here, I will briefly define this concept in quantum mechanics, and explain the role it might play in excited electron energy transfer. I will also discuss alternative hypotheses proposed that claim photosynthetic energy transfer efficiency may not be explained entirely or at all by quantum coherence, as well as what all possibilities could mean for the future of quantum biology.

Keywords

quantum coherence, excitons, quantum biology

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