A new theory of how plant photosynthesis involves quantum coherence has been suggested by physicists in the UK, Germany and Spain. This latest research is based on the study of organisms that live deep under the sea yet are able to convert sunlight into energy. The study suggests that molecular vibrations do not destroy the coherence – as previously thought – but rather perpetuate and even regenerate coherence. The discovery could lead to a better understanding how plants achieve as high as 99% efficiency in converting sunlight to energy, as well as the possibility of using nature-inspired designs in quantum devices.
Until recently, living systems were thought to be "too wet and warm" to rely on delicate quantum properties such as entanglement and coherence. The problem is that these properties decay rapidly via random interactions with things in the outside world, such as vibrating molecules. However, over the past decade physicists have begun to suspect that quantum properties play important roles in biochemical processes – including photosynthesis.