Past events

Probes of quantum behaviour in organic molecules

Prof. Vlatko Vedral, University of Oxford & National University of Singapore

Part of the Zepler Institute Quantum Science Distinguished Lecture Series


A growing body of evidence suggests that biological processes could be utilising quantum coherence, superpositions, and even, in some cases, quantum entanglement to perform various tasks with higher efficiency. I will first briefly summarize the existing evidence for quantum effects, including two of the most famous examples of biological processes: photosynthesis and magneto-reception. I will then present the key features of modeling the flow of energy in complex systems. The main challenge is to experimentally obtain a handful of parameters believed to be important for describing the interplay between coherence (within the system) and noise (arising due to the interaction or the system with its environment). I will present single molecule spectroscopy experiments we are currently undertaking in our laboratory to obtain a better understanding of quantum effects in biomolecules. Finally, I will explain how to set up experiments to test both quantum coherence as well as thermodynamical properties of energy transport.

Short bio

Vlatko Vedral is a professor of quantum information theory at the University of Oxford and professor of physics at the National University of Singapore (where he is a PI at the Centre for Quantum Technologies). He is the Director of the Oxford Martin School institute on “bio-inspired quantum technologies”. This explores the exciting possibility that living systems are subject to useful quantum effects, with a view to deriving and reverse-engineering architectures to inspire future quantum technologies that will help address serious challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. He has received numerous awards in recognition for his contribution to the development of the field, including the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and the World Scientific Medal and Prize. He has over 220 publications on quantum physics and collaborates in many inter-disciplinary international networks.