Learn about quantum chemistry and how to use it to understand biology
Principles of quantum chemistry
Applications of the quantumtheory in biochemistry
Applications of the quantumtheory in botany
Chemistry software
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What can quantum physics learn us about the biochemical processes that drive living systems ?

Quantum physics helps us to find relations between biological properties at atomic, molecular and macromolecular scales.

Physics, chemistry and biochemistry are linked sciences.

  • During the past decades much research has been done in molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics. This shows the importance the scientific community assigns to a good understanding of the “chemistry of biology”.
  • Chemistry and biology just like physics and chemistry are now overlapping fields and the convergence of these fields has contributed significantly to science.
  • Quantum chemistry and electronic structure theory is an application of quantum physics and is the scientific link between physics and chemistry.
    Recent significant progress in computer and software technology improved the possible applications of quantum chemistry. The financial cost of research reduced dramatically and almost anyone can afford the investment needed to do scientific research in quantum chemistry.
  • It is tempting now to explore the link between quantum physics, chemistry and biology.
    One way to do that is to look for possible applications of quantum chemistry in biochemistry and molecular biology. The possibilities arising from this idea are only limited by our creativity.
    Just because of this profusion it is important to have clearly defined research objectives. It is just as important to classify these research idea's to make it easy to find the right information.

Historically scientists tried to understand living organisms with structure-function relations.

How does biology relate to quantum physics ?

Leaves, roots, stem, xylem tissue, guard cells and chlorophylls are examples of biological structures with a known function. Leaves transform light into biomass; chlorophylls are pigment molecules that play an important role in light absorption during photosynthesis; stem is for reinforcement.
A mechanism explains the relation between structure and function.
  • The citric acid cycle and the Calvin Benson cycle are examples of mechanisms, these are metabolic pathways.
  • Meiosis and mitosis are mechanisms of cell division.
Biological structures can be classified in terms of their size:
  • tissues scale between 1 mm and 10 micrometer;
  • cells scale between 1 micrometer and 0.1 micrometer, cells are composed of organelles (e.g. mitochondria, Golgi apparatus) and macromolecules (e.g. DNA, enzymes);
  • molecules and atoms scale between 10 and 0.1 nanometer;
  • smaller than 0.1 nanometer we have elementary particles.
Quantum theory explains mechanisms and properties at the molecular and atomic scale. Structures larger than molecules can be explained with classical physics.
The mechanisms that take place in leaves involve an almost infinite number of steps. It is thus very difficult to know and understand them. Another major difficulty is that we cannot yet rely on a unified theory in physics.
Experimental research can identify molecular and atomic mechanisms that are important in biology. Quantum theory helps us to understand the properties of these molecules.
Currently we cannot deduce biological properties from calculations on elementary particles alone, but we can find relations between molecular and biological properties. We could use graph databases to store research information and the relations between them. The use of graph databases in bioinformatics is still evolving.