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NIM nanosystems initiative munich

Friday, 20 April, 2012

CeNS Colloquium

Lessons from Nature about solar light harvesting

Speaker: Prof. Gregory D. Scholes, Department of Chemistry, Institute for Optical Sciences and Centre for Quantum Information and Quantum Control, University of Toronto

Time: Friday, April 20th, 2012, 3:30 p.m.

Place: Adolf-von-Baeyer-Hörsaal, Butenandtstr. 5-13, München-Großhadern


More than 10 million billion photons of light strike a leaf each second. Incredibly, almost every red-coloured photon is captured by chlorophyll pigments and initiates steps to plant growth. Last year we reported that marine algae use quantum mechanics in order to optimize photosynthesis [1], a process essential to its survival.These and other insights from the natural world promise to revolutionize our ability to harness the power of the sun.

In a recent review [2] we described the principles learned from studies of various natural antenna complexes and suggested how to utilize that knowledge to shape future technologies. We forecast the need to develop ways to direct and regulate excitation energy flow using molecular organizations that facilitate feedback and control—not easy given that the energy is only stored for a billionth of a second.

In this presentation I will discuss energy transfer dynamics in optimal synthetic light-harvesting systems and will introduce the idea of molecular ‘light harvesting circuits’. The novelty of these circuits is that the way they work can only be predicted using the laws of quantum mechanics.

[1] Elisabetta Collini, Cathy Y. Wong, Krystyna E. Wilk, Paul M. G. Curmi, Paul Brumer, and Gregory D. Scholes, “Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature” Nature 463, 644–648 (2010).

[2] Gregory D. Scholes, Graham R. Fleming, Alexandra Olaya-Castro and Rienk van Grondelle, “Lessons from nature about solar light harvesting” Nature Chem. 3, 763–774 (2011).

 To Scholes group

 Abstract as pdf


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