Superconducting circuits are not useful only for building a universal quantum computer or exploring quantum optics, but also for example for studying light-harvesting models. In our recent paper A Potočnik et al., Nat. Commun. 9, 904 (2018) we have experimentally demonstrated how can superconducting circuits be used to study models of energy transport in disordered light-harvesting systems. With excellent control of system parameters we have successfully implemented a three site (three chlorophyll) model that have been theoretically predicted to show high energy transport efficiency in the presence of comparable quantum coherent and classical dephasing effects. Such artificial experimental method is very useful since these ideas are extremely difficult to test on biological photo-synthetic molecular systems due to their complexity and high disorder.
With the ability to engineer effective phononic environments we have also shown that fluctuating environment originating from the on-site chlorophyll vibrations can increase the energy transport even further when the characteristic phononic energy matches the energy difference between neighboring chlorophyll molecules. This observation is relevant not only for natural or artificial light-harvesting systems, but also for understanding the sense of smell (olfaction) in animals and humans.
Continue reading at ETH News: Exploring the secret of plants.