• 3 minutes Could Venezuela become a net oil importer?
  • 7 minutes Reuters: OPEC Ministers Agree In Principle On 1 Million Barrels Per Day Nominal Output Increase
  • 12 minutes Battle for Oil Port: East Libya Forces In Full Control At Ras Lanuf
  • 3 hours Oil prices going Up? NO!
  • 13 hours Renewables to generate 50% of worldwide electricity by 2050 (BNEF report)
  • 12 hours Reuters: OPEC Ministers Agree In Principle On 1 Million Barrels Per Day Nominal Output Increase
  • 18 hours Oil prices going down
  • 21 hours Could oil demand collapse rapidly? Yup, sure could.
  • 2 days Could Venezuela become a net oil importer?
  • 11 hours China’s Plastic Waste Ban Will Leave 111 Million Tons of Trash With Nowhere To Go
  • 2 days Oil Buyers Club
  • 18 hours Saudi Arabia turns to solar
  • 5 hours Kenya Eyes 200+ Oil Wells
  • 2 days Gazprom Exports to EU Hit Record
  • 5 hours Are Electric Vehicles Really Better For The Environment?
  • 20 hours Battle for Oil Port: East Libya Forces In Full Control At Ras Lanuf
  • 1 day Russia's Energy Minister says Oil Prices Balanced at $75, so Wants to Increase OPEC + Russia Oil by 1.5 mbpd
  • 19 hours Tesla Closing a Dozen Solar Facilities in Nine States
  • 10 hours OPEC soap opera daily update

Out Of Pond Scum, Solar Panels

This really isn’t as much of a stretch as it sounds. It’s just a matter connecting the dots in ways that might seem counterintuitive.

Start with algae – pond scum – and end with solar panels. In the middle is a series of connections made by researchers at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) that demonstrates how algae, which rely on sunlight to achieve photosynthesis, are able to survive in low-light environments.

The algae do it through what’s known as quantum coherence, according to a UNSW paper published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And they conclude that if algae can absorb sunlight in a dark pond, so can man-made organic solar cells.

The UNSW team’s work is part of a new branch of science called quantum, or subatomic-scaled, biology, which has uncovered evidence that quantum phenomena can be found not only in a physics lab, but also in nature. For example, scientists are exploring whether birds’ use of the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate may be a quantum phenomenon.

UNSW physics Professor Paul Curmi, the senior author of the paper, said the focus of his study was the single-celled alga called a cryptophyte, which thrives on the floors of ponds, and even under thick ice, and therefore has little access to sunlight.

Related Article: China Might Be Winning The Race To Reduce Solar Costs

What Curmi’s team found was that some of these cryptophytes use quantum coherence to harvest light for photosynthesis. In others, though, a genetic mutation in a light-harvesting protein causes the quantum coherence to be switched off. By studying this, researchers can determine more precisely the role that quantum coherence plays by comparing and contrasting algae with and without these proteins.

The paper notes that a coherent organic system – in which all quantum waves are moving in tandem – can exist in more than one state simultaneously. In cryptophytes, Curmi says, such simultaneous multiple states increases the organism’s options for channeling light, even very dim light, to photosynthesis centers, and doing it quickly.

“It was [previously] assumed the energy gets to the reaction [center] in a random fashion, like a drunk staggering home,” Curmi says. “But quantum coherence would allow the energy to test every possible pathway simultaneously before traveling via the quickest route.”

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com



Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News