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FRIAS Fellows publish results on quant transport in Nature Communications

Junior Fellows of the School of Soft Matter Research, theoretical physicist Dr. Florian Mintert and biophysicist Dr. Francesco Rao and their teams have researched conditions regarding quantum transport which plays an important role in photosynthesis.

In light of the global energy crisis, well-aimed use of renewable energies such as solar energy will be of tremendous help towards sustainable development. This idea is not new since nature has for millions of years exploited the sun's resources through photosynthesis. With the help of sunlight, plants transform energy poor substances into energy rich ones. This process, however, has not yet been sufficiently understood for use in technical applications.

Junior Fellows of the School of Soft Matter Research, theoretical physicist Dr. Florian Mintert and biophysicist Dr. Francesco Rao and their teams have researched conditions regarding quantum transport which plays an important role in photosynthesis. Efficient quantum transport relies on a sensitive state that gives rise to constructive interference, such that waves overlap and reinforce each other. This typically requires highly controlled conditions and very low temperatures.

With the help of mathematical models and complex network analyses, the Freiburg team could identify central geometrical characteristics which admit constructive interference in disordered media such as molecular structures. In particular the separation of media in active and inactive components leads to efficient transport that is robust against thermal fluctuations. The use of these characteristics as a construction principle would allow the production of molecular structures which would, even under suboptimal control of the exact geometry, achieve optimal efficiency.

This study is a result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between two junior research groups at FRIAS involving quantum systems and molecular processes with the analysis of complex networks. The success of this work emphasizes the need for more interdisciplinary cooperation in order to solve scientific problems.

Original paper:
Stefano Mostarda, Federico Levi, Diego Prada-Gracia, Florian Mintert, Francesco Rao (2013). Structure–dynamics relationship in coherent transport through disordered systems. Nature Communications 4, doi:10.1038/ncomms3296.
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Kontakt:
Dr. Florian Mintert, florian.mintert@frias.uni-freiburg.de

Dr. Francesco Rao, francesco.rao@frias.uni-freiburg.de