Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Quantum effects in biological systems

  1. Jul 15, 2008 #1
    I am going into my fourth year of studying physics and math as an undergrad. So I'm starting to think about what I want to research after I graduate. So far I'm pretty sure I want to go into biophysics. Specifically, I'm interesting in studying quantum mechanical effects in biological or organic systems, such as proteins or cells. Does anyone know of people that research this? Also does anyone think this is an unrealistic topic for research?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2008 #2

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There's a lot of work out there on photosynthesis and molecular motors (kinesin, dynein, etc), so you could check out that literature and see if it's what you had in mind.

    There's also some work on channel/transporter proteins, but since the structures are not known as well, there's less existing stuff: i.e., a good opportunity to contribute.
  4. Jul 15, 2008 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Roger Penrose's "The Emperor's New Mind", "Shadows of the Mind" and "The Large, the Small and the Human Mind" come to mind. But IMHO treating them too seriously may prove dangerous for your further career.
  5. Jul 15, 2008 #4


    User Avatar

    With proteins and cells, you're not really looking at quantum mechanical effects anymore - these would be considered macroscopic systems. I know our biophysics department does a lot of research on how proteins assemble themselves and how they are likely to be formed. The physics they use is often found more in the analysis, modeling, and statistics.
  6. Jul 16, 2008 #5
    I was thinking about stuff like this http://lphys.chem.utoronto.ca/newpage/research/coherent-control/" [Broken], where people look for coherent quantum effects in a macroscopic system.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  7. Jul 16, 2008 #6
    Given that bacteriorhodopsin's function is dependent upon absorption of light, it's not unexpected that it is amenable to such laser-based studies. It's a bit like photosynthetic systems in that regard, which were mentioned above.

    There is also interest in understanding the role of hydrogen tunneling in enzyme catalysis, but that tends to be a bit more "chemistry"-focused from what I've seen.
  8. Oct 14, 2009 #7
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook