Converting sunlight into energy could mean a new way to power our homes, vehicles and electronic devices. Yet doing so in an efficient manner has plagued solar energy for years. Now, though, scientists have looked at veritable powerhouses when it comes to converting sun into energy: plants. And they've found that the high efficient energy transport in these biological organisms is connected to a quantum-mechanical phenomenon that they've now examined. Until now, this quantum-mechanical phenomenon has never been directly observed at work at room temperature. Yet researchers have now been able to show for the first time at ambient conditions that the quantum mechanisms of energy transfer make photosynthesis more robust in the face of environmental influences. Known as coherence, this quantum phenomenon is manifested in so-called photosynthetic antenna proteins that are responsible for the absorption of sunlight and energy transport to the photochemical reaction centers of photosynthesis. via Science World Report.
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