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Quantization of Energy

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Quantization of Solar Power

How can studying plant energy proteins improve solar cells?

Credit: ScottDKP
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottdkp/4851745175/sizes/m/in/photolist-8oJsNT-chEaLb-9QQyZz-9QTqfL-cHjx8y-bYJMum-bSzEr6-9oo2NT-7NTNM7-7KHyeT-ckapjq-94ZPMf-baaD72-9HFcKN-9BtCbz-bu6pKh-bhUGmp-aVsQMT-bQuXfV-88CJJx-e5jkes-bhnwr2-f9jMkn-f8yeda-f9CezN-f9qYQq-f8crce-9RN6L2-apfKrQ-a5L4zc-9idmTm-f8UPHd-ajF5uj-egKvNt-7TkwVH-7Fimtz-7TYdQC-7ZQo5z-eV26qJ-7P1GhW-eF87WN-cpdrhq/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

[Figure1]

A quantum refers to energy that can be gained or lost by an atom.  Scientists are able to determine how much energy is in certain light photons using Planck’s constant and wave frequencies.  But what if scientists were able to determine the quantum physics of photosynthesis?  Plants have antennae proteins that are able to channel light energy from photon-sensitive molecules.  What is amazing about these exchanges is that almost no energy is lost in the transfer because of a phenomenon called coherence.  Using information they gather about the proteins involved in photosynthesis, scientists hope to improve solar cells and generate solar energy more efficiently.

Creative Applications

  1. What is a photon?
  2. Why are plants green?
  3. How does the color of a plant’s leaves determine the amount of sunlight absorbed?

Resources

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/02/quantum-photosynthesis/

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