The Weird World of Quantum Plants

During a science communication course —taught by the Australian Science Media Centre and organised by ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQuS) — that I attended yesterday, we were asked to write 100 jargon-free words that would describe our research in simple terms to a lay-audience. This post was my attempt:

When we think of ‘quantum physics’, we imagine scientists wearing white coats in pristine labs, but it turns out plants rely on quantum physics too! A plant’s leaves contain tiny antennae that collect light, much like a car’s aerial picks up the radio, but instead of staying on the one antenna the light’s energy spreads over many of them to help the plant control it.

The energy then rains down into a funnel, built by the plans to move this energy to where it is needed, and the plant uses this to create air, water and food. My research involves working out how this funnel works, and it wouldn’t work at all if not for quantum physics!

The Weird World of Quantum Plants