Breakthrough experiment pushes the boundaries of Quantum Biology

Physicists at Northwestern university have, for the first time in history, quantum entangled two biological systems.

This breakthrough could pave the way for utilising quantum effects to study biological systems, giving scientists a new set of tools with which to probe nature, and bringing us yet another small step closer to the realisation of quantum technologies. Their paper was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The team, led by Dr. Prem Kumar, successfully entangled photons (fundamental particles of light) emitted by green bio-luminescent algae using a process known as ‘spontaneous four-wave mixing’.

Remarkably, the barrel-shaped proteins, which are the cause for the algae’s bio-luminescence, protected the photons from the surrounding environment, allowing the system to exhibit its quantum properties for longer.

This means that biological systems, such as those used in this experiment, could be useful in developing quantum communication technologies, such as a quantum Internet. Such technologies have the potential to revolutionise every aspect of modern life, as they promise much greater computing power, private communication networks, and much more.

Since the advent of quantum mechanics (QM) at the start of the 20th century, scientists have been curious about the role quantum processes play in biology.

Since then, several naturally occurring biological systems have been shown to work using QM, such as photosynthesis (the process through which plants create energy from sunlight) as well as bird’s ability to sense magnetic fields.

“The reason we are interested in these new quantum states is because they allow applications that are otherwise impossible” - Dr Prem Kumar

In the future, Kumars team is interested in creating a biological substrate made from quantum entangled particles, and push the boundaries of quantum mechanics further into the realm of biology.

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