The Sir Martin Wood Prize Lecture

4 Jul 2017 -
3:00pm to 4:00pm
Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU
Martin Wood Lecture Theatre
General public (Age 14+)

The Sir Martin Wood Prize is awarded annually by the Millenium Science Forum to a young researcher from a Japanese University Research Institute who has performed outstanding research in the area of condensed matter science. The prize is named after Sir Martin Wood, Founder of Oxford Instruments. We are pleased to report that the 2016 prize-winner, Professor Akihito Ishizaki, from the Institute for Molecular Science Japan will deliver this year's lecture.

Title: Theory of Real-time Quantum Dissipative Dynamics and its Application to Photosynthetic Light Harvesting Systems

Quantum dynamic phenomena are ubiquitous in molecular processes, and yet remain a challenge for experimental and theoretical investigations. On the experimental side, it has become possible to explore molecular processes on a timescale down to a few femtoseconds by means of ultrashort laser pulses. This progress in ultrafast laser spectroscopy has opened up real-time observation of dynamic processes in complex chemical and biological systems, and has provided a strong impetus to theoretical studies of condensed phase quantum dynamics or real-time quantum dissipative dynamics.

Investigation on the primary steps of photosynthesis is an example of such efforts. With minor possible exceptions near hydrothermal vents, this process provides the energy source for essentially all living things on Earth. Photosynthetic conversion of the energy of sunlight into its chemical form suitable for cellular processes involves a variety of physicochemical mechanisms. The conversion starts with the absorption of a photon of sunlight by one of the light-harvesting pigments, followed by transfer of electronic excitation energy to the reaction centre. At low light intensities, the quantum efficiency of the conversion is near unity: that is, each of the absorbed photons almost certainly reaches the reaction centre and drives the electron transfer reactions. A longstanding question in photosynthetic research has been the following: How do light-harvesting systems deliver such high efficiency in the presence of disordered and fluctuating dissipative environments? The precise molecular mechanisms are not yet fully elucidated from the standpoint of physical sciences.

In this presentation, we provide an overview of recent experimental and theoretical investigations of photosynthetic energy/charge transfer, specifically addressing interplays between quantum mechanical effects and dynamic fluctuations of pigments' electronic states induced by their surrounding proteins.

For more information contact: 

Ms Olivia Hawkes
Condensed Matter Physics, Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU
T: 01865 27222