/>
X
Innovation

DARPA solicits research, sensors that demonstrate quantum biology

The Pentagon's cutting-edge research outfit, DARPA, is soliciting research that demonstrates quantum effects in biological processes -- as well as prototype biomimetic sensors that harness them.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

The Pentagon's cutting-edge research outfit, DARPA, is soliciting research that demonstrates quantum effects in biological processes -- as well as prototype biomimetic sensors that harness them.

Entitled "Quantum Effects in Biological Environments," the solicitation reveals that DARPA wants to augment or reproduce the same sensitive biological sensors that propel the nose to identify a faint smell, a plant to transfer energy during photosynthesis and a turtle to use the Earth's magnetic field to reach specific latitudes.

Here's an excerpt from the proposal. Bear with me, because it gets technical fast:

Biological sensors, unlike most synthetic sensors, are small, robust, operate at room temperature, and do not require clean rooms for fabrication.

Because of the high performance of biological sensors, there have been numerous efforts to build biomimetic sensors. Although great advances have been achieved, on the whole, the sensors developed have not performed as well as the biological systems.

Recent research on biological sensor systems such as photosynthesis, magnetoreception, and olfaction, has uncovered tantalizing evidence that they operate using “manifestly” quantum effects. The Fenna-Matthews-Olson (FMO) complex forms a portion of the photosynthetic apparatus of purple bacteria. It was shown that at low temperatures and upon photon absorption, the excitons in the FMO complex migrate via quantum coherence.  Recent evidence indicates that this coherence still exists at physiological temperatures.  Whether it is of biological relevance is still an unanswered question.

The task: not only build a verifiable model that demonstrates that "manifestly" quantum effects are exploited by biological sensors at room temperature, but design and fabricate a non-biological, proof-of-concept sensor that exploits the demonstrated quantum effect to enhance its performance.

U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin has already filed patents for a "ghost imaging" radar that, using the property of quantum entanglement, could identify threats through walls, clothes and solid earth.

[via Danger Room]

Image: University of Innsbruck

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards

Related

The 16 best Cyber Monday deals under $30 still available
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The 16 best Cyber Monday deals under $30 still available

Epson is going to stop selling laser printers. Here's why
piles-of-paper.jpg

Epson is going to stop selling laser printers. Here's why

The 38 best Cyber Monday deals at Costco still available
LG 65" Class - QNED80 Series

The 38 best Cyber Monday deals at Costco still available