Above all, we must know that the sun is to plants what oxygen is to us. Namely, the very source of the energy plants needs to grow, develop and reproduce. However, from the sun’s rays to the plants’ cells, the whole operation of transforming sunlight into energy is not as simple as it seems. There is where photosynthesis comes in, and it’s like obeying the principles of quantum physics.
This bioenergy process extracts light energy and converts it into chemical energy, which is then used to make sugars, such as carbohydrates, from water and carbon dioxide.
In detail, everything is played out in specialized cells, the chloroplasts of the leaves for the plants. There, the light energy, the so-called photons, is captured by photosensitive molecules, such as chlorophyll or carotene.
The photons give up their energy to plants
When a photon strikes one of these molecules, it transmits its energy in the form of an electronic excitation, which circulates through the plants’ receptors to a so-called “reaction site” where an electron is then released to feed the chemistry of life within plants. That’s perfectly tuned machinery and is incredibly useful.
In fact, photosynthesis offers a rate of return close to 100% as there is virtually no loss when converting light energy into chemical energy.
This is enough to make the manufacturers of photovoltaic panels pale with envy, whose best show performances that do not reach 50%.
What is the secret of such a feat? From biochemistry to quantum physics
For a long time, confused by this exceptional natural engineering, scientists now hold the lead – that of quantum physics. Namely, the ability of a quantum object to having two or more stances at the same time, which would optimize the transfer of light energy to cellular plants and justify its incredible performance.
During photosynthesis, the light particles behave as if they had the gift of ubiquity and could at the same time take all possible paths to reach the photosensitive molecules. That would explain how electronic excitation finds its way so effectively through the plants’ receptors to the “reaction site.”
While it is still too early to say that researchers have uncovered the secret of the extraordinary performance of natural photosynthesis, the hypothesis is increasingly tempting. In order to make the most of solar energy, nature would have adopted the panoply of the perfect quantum physics.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.