Artificial Photosynthesis, Quantum Computation by Plants

Heyy, Heloooo, Really!!

I’m not joking broo…

Plants soak up some of the 1017 joules of solar energy that bathe Earth each second, harvesting as much as 95 percent of it from the light they absorb. You know this very well, right!!

The transformation of sunlight into carbohydrates takes place in one million billionths of a second, preventing much of that energy from dissipating as heat.  Biophysicists have shown that plants use the basic principle of quantum computing—the exploration of a multiplicity of different answers at the same time—to achieve near-perfect efficiency.

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Plants are employing the basic principles of quantum mechanics to transfer energy from chromophore (photosynthetic molecule) to chromophore until it reaches the so-called reaction center where photosynthesis takes place. The particles of energy are behaving like waves. The wavelike motion of energetic particles through photosynthetic systems enables plants to efficiently capture the sun’s energy. Scientists of University of California explained that plants exploited the nature of quantum mechanics to maximize its efficiency in processing sunlight into carbohydrates, which they found out in a series of experiments on a photosynthetic bacteria. Researchers  showed quantum dots – a nano semiconductor crystal – helps in artificial photosynthesis.

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And now in 2018, researchers at Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, have developed an artificial leaf that successfully achieves artificial photosynthesis. And what’s more, their process claims to be 100 times more efficient than natural photosynthesis. The artificial leaf can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to generate fuel and release O2 simulating the process of Photosynthesis. Researchers of ‘The Quantum Leaf for Artificial Photosynthesis’ have designed and prepared CuAlS2/ZnS quantum dots (QDs) composed of biocompatible, earth-abundant elements, which can reduce salts of carbon dioxide under visible light into oxygen. Quantum Dots are so small that it is effectively concentrated into a single zero-dimensional point. They have a well-defined state of energy in accordance with the quantum theory and are generally made of a semi-conductor like silicon. They act as a catalyst to turn aqueous bicarbonate salt into formate and O2 under the presence of visible light.

Artificial-photosynthesis
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Natural and Artificial Photosynthesis

This is the most energy efficient method to covert CO2 in to fuel and O2 using only sunlight, and the most interesting thing is While most plants convert less than 1% of the available solar energy into chemical energy, the material developed by the scientists of IISc Bangalore can convert about 20% of the incident solar energy into chemical energy in the form of fuel and O2.

People have tried in the past to replicate the process of photosynthesis. But this is a major jump over available methods and is close to the maximum efficiency that can possibly be achieved artificially.

Then!! What are you thinking so much?

It’s really amazing, isn’t it?

Thank You

SHUBHANKAR KUNDU

IISER Bhopal


Reference links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_photosynthesis

https://io9.gizmodo.com/new-evidence-that-plants-get-their-energy-using-quantum-1498695627

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/plants-use-quantum-computing-gain-efficiency-doesnt-one/

Author: Shubhankar Kundu

A fifth-year BS-MS student and a DST-INSPIRE fellow at IISER Bhopal, pursuing a major in Chemistry. Loves writing poems and painting during leisure times. Has a knack for music and loves playing the violin. Also, loves reciting Bengali poems and football. A die-hard fan of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the legendary Indian freedom fighter. Exploring unknown places and photography, are some other noteworthy hobbies. Associated with the core team of TQR since 2018.

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