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Mini Dragon Group (ages 6-7)

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Chariton Noses
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Quantum Effects In Biology ((BETTER))

Quantum biology is the study of applications of quantum mechanics and theoretical chemistry to aspects of biology that cannot be accurately described by the classical laws of physics.[1] An understanding of fundamental quantum interactions is important because they determine the properties of the next level of organization in biological systems.

Quantum Effects in Biology

Many biological processes involve the conversion of energy into forms that are usable for chemical transformations, and are quantum mechanical in nature. Such processes involve chemical reactions, light absorption, formation of excited electronic states, transfer of excitation energy, and the transfer of electrons and protons (hydrogen ions) in chemical processes, such as photosynthesis, olfaction and cellular respiration.[2] Quantum biology may use computations to model biological interactions in light of quantum mechanical effects.[3] Quantum biology is concerned with the influence of non-trivial quantum phenomena,[4] which can be explained by reducing the biological process to fundamental physics, although these effects are difficult to study and can be speculative.[5]

Quantum biology is an emerging field; most of the current research is theoretical and subject to questions that require further experimentation. Though the field has only recently received an influx of attention, it has been conceptualized by physicists throughout the 20th century. It has been suggested that quantum biology might play a critical role in the future of the medical world.[6] Early pioneers of quantum physics saw applications of quantum mechanics in biological problems. Erwin Schrödinger's 1944 book What is Life? discussed applications of quantum mechanics in biology.[7] Schrödinger introduced the idea of an "aperiodic crystal" that contained genetic information in its configuration of covalent chemical bonds. He further suggested that mutations are introduced by "quantum leaps". Other pioneers Niels Bohr, Pascual Jordan, and Max Delbruck argued that the quantum idea of complementarity was fundamental to the life sciences.[8] In 1963, Per-Olov Löwdin published proton tunneling as another mechanism for DNA mutation. In his paper, he stated that there is a new field of study called "quantum biology".[9] In 1979, the Soviet and Ukrainian physicist Alexander Davydov published the first textbook on quantum biology entitled Biology and Quantum Mechanics.[10][11]

Various structures, such as the FMO complex in green sulfur bacteria, are responsible for transferring energy from antennae to a reaction site. FT electron spectroscopy studies of electron absorption and transfer show an efficiency of above 99%,[12] which cannot be explained by classical mechanical models like the diffusion model. Instead, as early as 1938, scientists theorized that quantum coherence was the mechanism for excitation energy transfer.

In 2017, the first control experiment with the original FMO protein under ambient conditions confirmed that electronic quantum effects are washed out within 60 femtoseconds, while the overall exciton transfer takes a time on the order of a few picoseconds.[28] In 2020 a review based on a wide collection of control experiments and theory concluded that the proposed quantum effects as long lived electronic coherences in the FMO system does not hold.[29] Instead, research investigating transport dynamics suggests that interactions between electronic and vibrational modes of excitation in FMO complexes require a semi-classical, semi-quantum explanation for the transfer of exciton energy. In other words, while quantum coherence dominates in the short-term, a classical description is most accurate to describe long-term behavior of the excitons.[30]

Another process in photosynthesis that has almost 100% efficiency is charge transfer, again suggesting that quantum mechanical phenomena are at play.[21] In 1966, a study on the photosynthetic bacterium Chromatium found that at temperatures below 100 K, cytochrome oxidation is temperature-independent, slow (on the order of milliseconds), and very low in activation energy. The authors, Don DeVault and Britton Chase, postulated that these characteristics of electron transfer are indicative of quantum tunneling, whereby electrons penetrate a potential barrier despite possessing less energy than is classically necessary.[31]

Whenever a cell reproduces, it must copy these strands of DNA. However, sometimes throughout the process of copying the strand of DNA a mutation, or an error in the DNA code, can occur. A theory for the reasoning behind DNA mutation is explained in the Lowdin DNA mutation model.[33] In this model, a nucleotide may spontaneously change its form through a process of quantum tunneling.[34][35] Because of this, the changed nucleotide will lose its ability to pair with its original base pair and consequently changing the structure and order of the DNA strand.

Vision relies on quantized energy in order to convert light signals to an action potential in a process called phototransduction. In phototransduction, a photon interacts with a chromophore in a light receptor. The chromophore absorbs the photon and undergoes photoisomerization. This change in structure induces a change in the structure of the photo receptor and resulting signal transduction pathways lead to a visual signal. However, the photoisomerization reaction occurs at a rapid rate, in under 200 femtoseconds,[44] with high yield. Models suggest the use of quantum effects in shaping the ground state and excited state potentials in order to achieve this efficiency.[45]

Organelles, such as mitochondria, are thought to utilize quantum tunneling in order to translate intracellular energy.[61] Traditionally, mitochondria are known to generate most of the cell's energy in the form of chemical ATP. Mitochondria conversion of biomass into chemical ATP is 60-70% efficient, which is superior than the classical regime of man-made engines.[62] To achieve chemical ATP, researchers have found that a preliminary stage before chemical conversion is necessary; this step, via the quantum tunneling of electrons and hydrogen ions (H+), requires a deeper look at the quantum physics that occurs within the organelle.[57]

Because tunneling is a quantum mechanism, it is important to understand how this process may occur for particle transfer in a biological system. Tunneling is largely dependent upon the shape and size of a potential barrier, relative to the incoming energy of a particle.[63] Because the incoming particle can be defined by a wave equation, its tunneling probability is dependent upon the potential barrier's shape in an exponential way, meaning that if the barrier is akin to a very wide chasm, the incoming particle's probability to tunnel will decrease. The potential barrier, in some sense, can come in the form of an actual biomaterial barrier. Mitochondria are encompassed by a membrane structure that is akin to the cellular membrane, on the order of 75 Å (7.5 nm) thick.[62] The inner membrane of a mitochondrion must be overcome to permit signals (in the form of electrons, protons, H+) to transfer from the site of emittance (internal to the mitochondria) and the site of acceptance (i.e. the electron transport chain proteins).[64] In order to transfer particles, the membrane of the mitochondria must have the correct density of phospholipids to conduct a relevant charge distribution that attracts the particle in question. For instance, for a greater density of phospholipids, the membrane contributes to a greater conductance of protons.[64]

Alexander Davydov developed the quantum theory of molecular solitons in order to explain the transport of energy in protein α-helices in general and the physiology of muscle contraction in particular.[66][67] He showed that the molecular solitons are able to preserve their shape through nonlinear interaction of amide I excitons and phonon deformations inside the lattice of hydrogen-bonded peptide groups.[68][69] In 1979, Davydov published his complete textbook on quantum biology entitled "Biology and Quantum Mechanics" featuring quantum dynamics of proteins, cell membranes, bioenergetics, muscle contraction, and electron transport in biomolecules.[10][11]

Experiments in the lab support the basic theory that radical-pair electrons can be significantly influenced by very weak magnetic fields, i.e., merely the direction of weak magnetic fields can affect radical-pair's reactivity and therefore can "catalyze" the formation of chemical products. Whether this mechanism applies to magnetoreception and/or quantum biology, that is, whether earth's magnetic field "catalyzes" the formation of biochemical products by the aid of radical-pairs, is not fully clear. Radical-pairs may need not be entangled, the key quantum feature of the radical-pair mechanism, to play a part in these processes. There are entangled and non-entangled radical-pairs, but disturbing only entangled radical-pairs is not possible with current technology. Researchers found evidence for the radical-pair mechanism of magnetoreception when European robins, cockroaches, and garden warblers, could no longer navigate when exposed to a radio frequency that obstructs magnetic fields[70] and radical-pair chemistry. Further evidence came from a comparison of Cryptochrome 4 (CRY4) from migrating and non-migrating birds. CRY4 from chicken and pigeon were found to be less sensitive to magnetic fields than those from the (migrating) European robin, suggesting evolutionary optimization of this protein as a sensor of magnetic fields.[77]

Ferritin is an iron storage protein that is found in plants and animals. It is usually formed from 24 subunits that self-assemble into a spherical shell that is approximately 2 nm thick, with an outer diameter that varies with iron loading up to about 16 nm. Up to 4500 iron atoms can be stored inside the core of the shell in the Fe3+ oxidation state as water-insoluble compounds such as ferrihydrite and magnetite.[78] Ferritin is able to store electrons for at least several hours, which reduce the Fe3+ to water soluble Fe2+.[79] Electron tunneling as the mechanism by which electrons transit the 2 nm thick protein shell was proposed as early as 1988.[80] Electron tunneling and other quantum mechanical properties of ferritin were observed in 1992,[81] and electron tunneling at room temperature and ambient conditions was observed in 2005.[82] Electron tunneling associated with ferritin is a quantum biological process, and ferritin is a quantum biological agent. 041b061a72


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