The quantum physics of photosynthesis

Thorsten Ritz, Ana Damjanović, Klaus Schulten

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biological cells contain nanoscale machineries that exhibit a unique combination of high efficiency, high adaptability to changing environmental conditions, and high reliability. Recent progress in obtaining atomically resolved structures provide an opportunity for an atomic-level explanation of the biological function of cellular machineries and the underlying physical mechanisms. A prime example in this regard is the apparatus with which purple bacteria harvest the light of the sun. Its highly symmetrical architecture and close interplay of biological functionality with quantum physical processes allow an illuminating demonstration of the fact that properties of living beings ultimately rely on and are determined by the laws of physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-248
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 12 2002


  • Carotenoids
  • Chromophores
  • Electronic excitation transfer
  • Photosysthesis
  • Proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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