Nowadays, the alarming trends in global energy demand and the finite nature of conventional oil and natural gas reserves are unavoidably leading to the urgency of finding and timely developing new renewable energy technologies, by facilitating also participation by qualified researchers. In this context, quantum biology is a new strategically important and rapidly developing research field, whose practical implementations will be crucial for novel and more powerful solar energy ‘quantum’ technologies and for the creation of a European knowledge-based bioeconomy.
Here, we will investigate theoretically and experimentally the role of quantum effects in biology, especially in natural photosynthesis, by studying theoretical models of energy transport in quantum complex networks and testing them by means of designed experiments based on quantum optical simulators, cold atoms in optical lattices, and ultra-fast laser spectroscopy on natural and artificial light-harvesting biomolecules. It will allow us, first of all, to have a deeper understanding of how Nature has been exploiting, since billions of years, quantum coherence and environmental noise to get very efficient and robust energy transfer in photosynthesis, and, even more desirably, to design new clean energy structures and light-harvesting molecular geometries, leading to future ‘quantum’ solar cells more efficient than today’s photovoltaic ones.
Finally, it will help the Researcher, Dr. F. Caruso, whose previous expertise makes him very well suited for this project, to be reintegrated for the first time in his own country, at LENS in Florence, after a period of mobility of three years in foreign countries (UK, Germany), to have his own research budget, to set up an independent team, to transfer his knowledge in quantum biology (acquired abroad) making a pioneering contribution to Italian science and establishing himself as a leader there, with very promising prospects of a permanent academic position in Florence.
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