Curated by RSF Research Staff
Special arrangement of matter in biomolecules protects quantum coherence
Quantum entangled photons have been produced in a class of biological macromolecules known as green fluorescent proteins (derived from bioluminescent organisms like jellyfish). In addition to producing entangled photons, it was found that the structure and shape of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) protected the photons from decoherence by environmental sources. The recent experiment has upturned reigning conventional thought regarding the possibility of nontrivial quantum states in the biological system.
“Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have received significant attention in biomedical research (fluorescence microscopy, intracellular dynamics, and reporter gene technology) because of their high quantum efficiency in absorption-emission processes, and their ability to fuse to other proteins while maintaining fluorescence. The optofluidic biolaser, where the gain medium consists of enhanced green FP (EGFP) expressed in live cells, has succeeded in measuring subtle changes in biological molecules. The potential application of FPs in quantum technology, however, still awaits exploration.” --- Generation of photonic entanglement in green fluorescent proteins, 2017.
One of the primary postulates that have been repeated by the Resonance Science Foundation research team, in particular biophysicist William Brown, is that the living system is a unique arrangement of matter that has properties above-and-beyond what is observed in normal bulk matter. The special configurations and properties of the biological macromolecules of the living system, shaped by billions of years of evolution, have unique properties that go far beyond what is naively presumed based on experimentation with single particles in highly isolated laboratory conditions.
Simply stated, it is a backwards perspective to presume that isolated particles can be used to teach us about the fundamental properties of extremely complex biomolecules---indeed we may find that the biological system will be the next revolutionary source to study deeper than ever before into the nature of quantum mechanics.
Many prominent theories that have proposed quantum mechanical phenomena within the biological system---which would imbed processes of the living system much more deeply into the fundamental wheelwork of universal mechanics---have been quickly shot-down by “pragmatic” physicists because of the (erroneous) perspective that the cellular environment is highly noisy, disordered, and in no-way conducive to fragile quantum states.
Many recent developments have begun to show just how erroneous such prevalent and conventional presumptions are: quantum states are not so fragile after all, with effects such as quantum discord and the quantum Zeno dynamics becoming more well-known; and the biological system is not noisy and disordered---it is a paracrystalline configuration of precise order and symphonic orchestration.
The latest experiment involving production of quantum entangled photons by GFP in situ, and the increased resiliency to environmental decoherence because of the shielding structure of the beta-barrel of GFP, provide observational and empirical support for theories of quantum biological processes. The leaders of the research note that advances in quantum biology are what drove them to apply novel quantum spectroscopic techniques with biological materials.
The unique quantum properties of the biomolecules and the resulting production of entangled photon pairs has great potential technological applications for increased precision of measurements as well providing novel control knobs in nonlinear spectroscopic applications.