September 16, 2013
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
DAWN RUDE, administrative assistant,
AMY KELLY, Media Relations director
CENTENNIAL SCHOLARS LECTURE ON LIGHT
Dr. Darin Ulness and Dr. Mark Gealy will present the first Centennial Scholars Series Lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, in Birkeland Alumni Lounge. The lecture, “Coherence from Incoherence: What Noisy Light Can Teach Us About Photosynthetic Light Harvesting Complexes” is free and open to the public.
Ulness, a professor in the chemistry department, and Gealy, a professor in the physics department, worked with co-inquirers Rebecca Hendrickson ’15, Meghan Knudtzon ’15, Bobby Spoja ’14, and St. Olaf sophomore Tomaz Berquo Manzoni.
Recent investigations of photosynthetic organisms have revealed interesting quantum mechanical effects in light harvesting complexes and work on this topic involved the exclusive use of ultra-short pulse lasers, but the nature of that light is very different from sunlight. Short pulse light is said to be “coherent,” meaning every component color is precisely related (in time) to every other color, contrary to “incoherent” sunlight where every color of the rainbow behaves completely independently of any other color.
The group developed and applied of what they call noisy light spectroscopy, which utilizes light that is similar to sunlight and are uniquely positioned to answer an important question surrounding quantum effects in photosynthesis: Can incoherent light produce the same quantum features as short-pulsed light?
The talk will provide an overview of the exciting recent research on quantum effects in photosynthesis, and some of the specifics of their most recent work.