Tag Archives: quantum

Quantum mechanics explains efficiency of photosynthesis

Light-gathering macromolecules in plant cells transfer energy by taking advantage of molecular vibrations whose physical descriptions have no equivalents in classical physics, according to the first unambiguous theoretical evidence of quantum effects in photosynthesis published today in the journal Nature Communications.

The majority of light-gathering macromolecules are composed of chromophores (responsible for the colour of molecules) attached to proteins, which carry out the first step of photosynthesis, capturing sunlight and transferring the associated energy highly efficiently. Previous experiments suggest that energy is transferred in a wave-like manner, exploiting quantum phenomena, but crucially, a non-classical explanation could not be conclusively proved as the phenomena identified could equally be described using classical physics. (more…)

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A Clock that Will Last Forever

Berkeley Lab Researchers Propose a Way to Build the First Space-Time Crystal

Imagine a clock that will keep perfect time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe. This is the “wow” factor behind a device known as a “space-time crystal,” a four-dimensional crystal that has periodic structure in time as well as space. However, there are also practical and important scientific reasons for constructing a space-time crystal. With such a 4D crystal, scientists would have a new and more effective means by which to study how complex physical properties and behaviors emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles, the so-called many-body problem of physics. A space-time crystal could also be used to study phenomena in the quantum world, such as entanglement, in which an action on one particle impacts another particle even if the two particles are separated by vast distances.

A space-time crystal, however, has only existed as a concept in the minds of theoretical scientists with no serious idea as to how to actually build one – until now. An international team of scientists led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has proposed the experimental design of a space-time crystal based on an electric-field ion trap and the Coulomb repulsion of particles that carry the same electrical charge. (more…)

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Solar Car Powerhouse U-Mich. Gets Home Field Advantage in Upcoming American Race

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Across eight states in eight days, the nation’s winningest solar car team from the University of Michigan will defend its title next month in the American Solar Challenge that includes an overnight stop in its hometown.

The student team is vying for its seventh first-place finish and fourth consecutive championship. The North American contest has been held roughly every other year since 1990, when U-M won the inaugural event with a car called Sunrunner.

This year, the team will race Quantum, its lightest-ever vehicle that finished third in the World Solar Challenge in Australia last fall. Quantum weighs a full 200 pounds less than its most recent predecessor, and it is 30 percent more aerodynamic. The team of mostly undergraduates designs and builds a new car every two years. (more…)

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Graphene and DNA

‘Wonder material’ may hold key to fast, inexpensive genetic sequencing

Look at the tip of that old pencil in your desk drawer, and what you’ll see are layers of graphite that are thousands of atoms thick. Use the pencil to draw a line on a piece of paper, and the mark you’ll see on the page is made up of hundreds of one-atom layers.

But when scientists found a way—using, essentially, a piece of ordinary sticky tape—to peel off a layer of graphite that was just a single atom thick, they called the two-dimensional material graphene and, in 2010, won the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery. (more…)

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