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Quantum biology is a speculative and interdisciplinary field that seeks to link quantum physics and the life sciences[1]. Essentially, it is an attempt to study biological processes in terms of quantum mechanics (QM), using quantum theory to study the structure, energy transfer and chemical reactions of biological molecules [2] in an effort to apply quantum principles to macroscopic systems as opposed to the atomic or subatomic realms generally described by quantum theory. Fundamental biological processes that involve the conversion of energy into forms that are usable for chemical transformations are quantum mechanical in nature. These processes involve chemical reactions themselves, light absorption, formation of excited electronic states, transfer of excitation energy, and the transfer of electrons and protons (hydrogen ions) in chemical processes such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration.[3]. Quantum biology uses mathematical computation to model biological interactions in light of QM effects [4]. An unresolved and still controversial issue in this field is that of non-trivial (i.e. not limited to properties of molecules) role of quantum effects in biological systems [5] [6] [7].


Some of the biological phenomena that have been studied in terms of quantum processes are the absorbance of frequency-specific radiation (i.e., photosynthesis[8] and vision)[9]; the conversion of chemical energy into motion[10]; magnetoreception in animals[11] and brownian motors in many cellular processes.[12] The field has also been active in researching QM analysis of magnetic fields and bird navigation,[13] and may possibly shed light on Circadian rhythms in many organisms.[14]


  • Derek Abbott, Julio Gea-Banacloche, Paul C. W. Davies, Stuart Hameroff, Anton Zeilinger, Jens Eisert, Howard M. Wiseman, Sergey M. Bezrukov, and Hans Frauenfelder, "Plenary debate: quantum effects in biology―trivial or not?" Fluctuation and Noise Letters, 8(1), pp. C5-C26, 2008.
  • F. H. Thaheld, "An interdisciplinary approach to certain fundamental issues in the fields of physics and biology: towards a unified theory" BioSystems, 80, pp. 41-56, 2005.
  • J. Gilmore and R. H. McKenzie, "Spin boson models for quantum decoherence of electronic excitations of biomolecules and quantum dots in a solvent," Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, 17(10), pp. 1735-1746, 2005.
  • S. Hameroff and J. Tuszynski, "Quantum states in proteins and protein assemblies: the essence of life?" Proc. SPIE Fluctuations and Noise in Biological, Biophysical, and Biomedical Systems II, Eds. D. Abbott, S.M. Bezrukov, A. Der, and A. Sánchez, 5467, pp. 27-41, Canary Islands, 2004. p
  • P.C.W. Davies, "Does quantum mechanics play a non-trivial role in life?" BioSystems, 78, pp. 69-79, 2004.
  • A. F. Rocha, E. Massad and F. A. B. Coutinho, "Can the human brain do quantum computing?" Medical Hypotheses, 63, pp. 895-899, 2004.
  • A. U. Igamberdiev, "Quantum computation, non-demolition measurements, and reflective control in living systems," BioSystems, 77, pp. 47-56, 2004.
  • S. R. Hameroff, "A new theory of the origin of cancer: quantum coherent entanglement, centrioles, mitosis, and differentiation," BioSystems, 77, pp. 119-136, 2004.
  • Z.-X. Liang and J. P. Klinman, "Structural bases of hydrogen tunneling in enzymes: progress and puzzles," Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 14, pp. 468-655, 2004.
  • P.C.W. Davies, "Emergent biological principles and the computational properties of the universe," Complexity, 10(2), pp. 11-15, 2004.
  • C. W. Smith, "Quanta and coherence effects in water and living systems," The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 10(1), pp. 69-78, 2004.
  • L. Hackermuller, S. Uttenthaler, K. Hornberger, E. Reiger, B. Brezger, A. Zeilinger, and M. Arndt, "Wave nature of biomolecules and fluorofullerenes," Physical Review Letters, 91(9), 090408, 2003.
  • O. Nariz, M. Arndt, and A. Zeilinger, "Quantum interference experiments with large molecules," American Journal of Physics, 71(4), pp. 319-325, 2003.
  • S. Axelsson, "Perspectives on handedness, life and physics," Medical Hypotheses, 61(2), pp. 267-274, 2003.
  • S. R. Hameroff, A. Nip, M. Porter, and J. Tuszynski, "Conduction pathways in microtubules, biological quantum computation, and consciousness," BioSystems, 64, pp. 146-168, 2002.
  • V. Helms, "Electronic excitations of biomolecules studied by quantum chemistry," Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 12, pp. 169-175, 2002.
  • S. M. Hitchcock, "Photosynthetic quantum computers," arXiv:quant-ph/0108087, 2001.
  • V. Gogonea, D. Suarez, A. van der Vaart and K. M. Merz, "New developments in applying quantum mechanics to proteins," Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 11, pp. 217-223, 2001.
  • M. Kameyama, "Quantum cellular biology: a curious example of a cat," Medical Hypotheses, 57(3), pp. 358-360, 2001.
  • M. Tegmark, "Why the brain is probably not a quantum computer," Information Sciences, 128, pp. 155-179, 2000.
  • K. Matsuno, "Is there a biology of quantum information? ," BioSystems, 55, pp. 39-46, 2000.
  • M. Tegmark, "The importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes," Physical Review E, 61(4), pp. 4194-4206, 2000.
  • H. S. Green, "Measurement and the observer," Chapter 8 in Information Theory and Quantum Physics: Physical Foundations for Understanding the Conscious Process, Springer, pp. 172-209, 2000.
  • E. Bieberich, "Probing quantum coherence in a biological system by means of DNA amplification," BioSystems, 57, pp. 109-124, 2000.
  • A. Kohen and J. Klinman, "Hydrogen tunneling in biology," Chemistry and Biology, 6, pp. R191-R198, 1999.
  • W. J. Meggs, "Biological homing: hypothesis for a quantum effect that leads to the existence of life," Medical Hypotheses, 51, pp. 503-506, 1998.
  • M. Tegmark, "Does the universe in fact contain almost no information?" Foundations of Physics Letters, 9(1), pp. 25-42, 1996.
  • S. Hameroff and R. Penrose, "Orchestrated reduction of quantum coherence in brain microtubules: A model for consciousness," Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, 40, pp. 453-480, 1996.
  • D. V. Nanopoulos, "Theory of brain function, quantum mechanics and superstrings," arXiv: hep-ph/950374, 1995.


  1. Tae-Chang Kim, Eric Chaisson (1999). Science, Education and Future Generations, p 26, Taylor & Francis Ltd.
  2. Ian Brown, Zengliang Yu, Thiraphat Vilaithong (2005). Introduction to Ion Beam Biotechnology, p 97, Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
  3. Quantum Biology. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group.
  4. Science Daily Quantum Biology: Powerful Computer Models Reveal Key Biological Mechanism Retrieved Oct 14, 2007
  5. H.M. Wiseman, J. Eisert Nontrivial quantum effects in biology: A skeptical physicists' view arXiv:0705.1232v2 [physics.gen-ph]
  6. Davies PC.Does quantum mechanics play a non-trivial role in life? Biosystems. 2004 Dec;78(1-3):69-79.
  7. Ogryzko VV. Erwin Schroedinger, Francis Crick and epigenetic stability.Biol Direct. 2008 Apr 17;3:15.
  8. Quantum Secrets of Photosynthesis Revealed
  9. Garab, G. (1999). Photosynthesis: Mechanisms and Effects: Proceedings of the XIth International Congress on Photosynthesis, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  10. Levine, Raphael D. (2005). Molecular Reaction Dynamics, p 16-18, Cambridge University Press.
  11. Binhi, Vladimir N. (2002). Magnetobiology: Underlying Physical Problems, pp 14-16, Academic Press.
  12. Harald Krug, Harald Brune, Gunter Schmid, Ulrich Simon, Viola Vogel, Daniel Wyrwa, Holger Ernst, Armin Grunwald, Werner Grunwald, Heinrich Hofmann (2006). Nanotechnology: Assessment and Perspectives, pp 197-240, Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & Co. K.
  13. Chris Rodgers, The Spin Chemistry of Bird Navigation 2005
  14. Math Model For Circadian Rhythm Created, ScienceDaily, August 30, 2007

Further reading

  • Atomistic approaches in modern biology : from quantum chemistry to molecular simulations by Markus Reiher; L Bertini. Berlin ; New York : Springer, 2007. ISBN 9783540380825
  • Molecular structure and dynamics in biology. by Roman Osman; Guiliano Alagona; Caterina Ghio; International Society for Quantum Biology and Pharmacology.Wiley, 1999. OCLC: 82140679
  • Theoretical chemistry in biology : from molecular structure to functional mechanisms. by Peter Kollman; Harel Weinstein John Wiley and Sons, 1998. OCLC: 80429626

See also

External links

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