Quantum Bio-Photonics Incubator

Quantum Bio-Photonics Incubator

28-30 April 2019
OSA Headquarters, Washington, DC


  • Greg Engel, University of Chicago, United States
  • Alexandra Olaya-Castro, University College London, United Kingdom
  • Luca Sapienza, University of Southampton, United Kingdom


The progress in quantum science and technology has allowed researchers to explore elusive quantum effects in atoms, ions and semiconductor nanostructures and, more recently, biomolecules. Despite the requirement of relatively high temperatures and condensed-phase operation, there is growing evidence that photosynthetic complexes isolated from plants, algae and some bacteria could host quantum states when transferring energy.

Such findings, mostly based on photonics experiments, have propelled a new, highly interdisciplinary research area: Quantum Biology. To move our understanding forward, a truly cross-boundary approach is needed in order to be able to address the challenges faced by this research field.

If quantum mechanics explains the structure and physical-chemical properties of molecules composing living organisms, what remains puzzling is if quantum phenomena affect the way biomolecules function. Questions have been raised on the role of quantum phenomena in the energy transfer and conversion and non-trivial quantum effects in the way electronic and vibrational motions share a single quantum of energy have been predicted in prototype light-harvesting units.

This Incubator will gather experts in nanofabrication, quantum optics, single molecule biophysics, energy harvesting, physical chemistry, theoretical and experimental quantum biology to discuss the highly interdisciplinary research area of Quantum Bio-Photonics, with the aim of joining forces, by discussing current limitations and paths to move our scientific understanding of this field forward.

Thinking forward to the next breakthroughs in quantum bio-photonics, it is clear that we need novel experiments to provide unambiguous evidence of quantum dynamics in biomolecules. Such investigations will also open the path to novel opportunities for quantum technology and quantum information, enabled by measurements of quantum coherence in complex systems.

Towards these goals, Incubator participants will explore the following questions:

  1. What can we learn from measurements of quantum coherence about the quantum dynamics, down to the single molecule level, in photosynthetic processes?

  2. What advantages does an environment that can preserve quantum coherence provide to the function of such systems?

  3. Can we use coherence measurements to engineer electro-optical devices beyond the current state of the art?

  4. Can we realize bio-inspired devices or algorithms exceeding the state of the art by exploiting quantum dynamics?

  5. How can we use synthetic biology methods to modify biomolecular systems to improve their quantum performance?


This Incubator is supported in part by:



Meeting Schedule (All times approximate; View tentative agenda here)
The program, including breakfasts and lunches, will be held at OSA Headquarters, 2010 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Dinners, which are also included in the registration, will be held at local restaurants.
Sunday 28 April 2019

  • Dinner, Leziz (2016 P St. NW, Washington DC), at 18:00

Monday 29  April 2019

  • Breakfast begins at 8:00 at OSA headquarters

  • Program begins at 9:00, lunch is included onsite

  • Dinner, La Tomate (1701 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC), begins at 17:30

Tuesday 30 April 2019

  • Breakfast begins at 8:00

  • Program begins at 9:00, lunch is included onsite

  • Adjourn at 15:15

Are you interested in attending?
A limited number of spots have been set aside at this invitation only meeting for interested individuals to apply for. Please send a brief letter of interest along with a CV to the hosts at osaincubator@osa.org.
Additional Information
This page will provide you with information on receiving a letter of invitation if required for your visa as well as additional logistical and area information.