Quantum Genetic Engineering

Cliff Vestergaard

Joined February 2007

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A blend of Quantum Physics and Genetic Engineering has created an era in the field of Science. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have managed to genetically enhance a virus that can improve the efficiency of solar cells in transporting energy. By exploiting the technique used by the plants in photosynthesis, genetically improved viruses are designed, which enable the Solar Cells to generate energy with nearly double efficiency.It is said that when compared to plants, the solar cells stand nowhere when it comes to the efficiency. Therefore, the study of ‘quantum mechanics’(also referred as quantum weirdness) involved in photosynthesis helped in improving the functioning of the solar cells.This quantum mechanics in plants allows the existence of a particle in more than one place at a particular instant of timeThis technique is used in designing the improvised solar cells. In photosynthesis, when a photon hits a receptor called a chromophore, a quantum particle called exciton is produced.

An exciton transfers from one receptor to another until it reaches a reaction center to harness energy. Percent of efficiency depends on the path choosen by the exciton to reach the reaction centre.Unless the exciton takes the best way,maximum efficiency is not possible.For this to be accomplished, chromophores should be arranged with the right amount of gap between them.This is done based on ‘Quantum Goldilocks Effect’. Using the same concept, MIT researchers used genetically engineered viruses and were able to bond it with multiple synthetic chromophores or organic dyes. For the research study, viruses with variable spacing are produced in between the chromophores and the efficiency is tested and concluded which spacing gives the best efficiency.Eventually,the speed of excitons was also improved by more than 200 percent. It was also found that the excitons now travelled a much larger distance before dissipating the entire energy. However,the study is still under initial stages but it has paved a way for a better furture.In this period of sparse energy and non-renewable energy sources being on the verge of exhaustion ,this way of efficient solar energy passes on sighs of relief by a promising alternative.

Written By,

M.Bindhu Bhavani

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