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Quantum dynamics of the avian compass



Quantum dynamics of the avian compass



Physical Review. E Statistical Nonlinear and Soft Matter Physics 90(4): 042710



The ability of migratory birds to orient relative to the Earth's magnetic field is believed to involve a coherent superposition of two spin states of a radical electron pair. However, the mechanism by which this coherence can be maintained in the face of strong interactions with the cellular environment has remained unclear. This paper addresses the problem of decoherence between two electron spins due to hyperfine interaction with a bath of spin-1/2 nuclei. Dynamics of the radical pair density matrix are derived and shown to yield a simple mechanism for sensing magnetic field orientation. Rates of dephasing and decoherence are calculated ab initio and found to yield millisecond coherence times, consistent with behavioral experiments.

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Accession: 055326659

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25375526

DOI: 10.1103/physreve.90.042710


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