What is Quantum Biology and why does it matter?


Wednesday, July 26, 2023 - 09:00 to 09:30




Lecture 1. Jonathan Woodward

Title: What is Quantum Biology and why does it matter?

Abstract: Quantum mechanics is central to our understanding of both physics and chemistry, while in biology existing theories and models have largely treated biological systems as behaving according to the rules of classical physics (albeit made up of particles that obey the rules of quantum mechanics). However, in recent years, across a range of different biological phenomena, scientists have started to understand that such a simplification may be masking some of biology’s most remarkable abilities, recently leading to the rise of a new interdisciplinary research area known as quantum biology.

This lecture will serve as an introduction to this exciting new field and explain how some of the unique features of quantum mechanics can be manifest in real, functioning biological systems, far removed from the strict isolation and controlled conditions of a physics laboratory, and reveal how biology’s exploitation of these features can have a profound influence on how living organisms interact with and exploit their environments. By understanding how nature leverages these quantum advantages, we may unlock secrets to propel our own technological solutions to contemporary challenges.

In particular, I will introduce examples from three key areas of quantum biology: quantum tunnelling in enzymes, quantum coherence in photosynthetic energy transfer and spin correlations in animal magnetoreception. In addition, I will look at the different possibilities offered by both Quantum IN Biology and Quantum FOR Biology.

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