Quantum design of photosynthesis for bio-inspired solar-energy conversion


Nature   543, 355–365, (16 March 2017), doi:10.1038/nature22012
Received  02 December 2016
Accepted  01 February 2017
Published online 15 March 2017



Photosynthesis is the natural process that converts solar photons into energy-rich products that are needed to drive the biochemistry of life. Two ultrafast processes form the basis of photosynthesis: excitation energy transfer and charge separation. Under optimal conditions, every photon that is absorbed is used by the photosynthetic organism. Fundamental quantum mechanics phenomena, including delocalization, underlie the speed, efficiency and directionality of the charge-separation process. At least four design principles are active in natural photosynthesis, and these can be applied practically to stimulate the development of bio-inspired, human-made energy conversion systems.

At a glance



  1. Absorption spectra and X-ray structure of the bacterial reaction centre and the PSII reaction centre.
    Figure 1
  2. Resonant vibrations promote effective charge separation.
    Figure 2



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