Quantum dynamics of the avian compass

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(Color online) Decay of coherence in the Bloch sphere picture. For initially pure states, trajectories begin on the unit sphere before undergoing rapid decay of the z component and slow decay of the x and y components

Zachary B. Walters
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 Letter addresses the problem of decoherence between two electron spins due to hyperfine interaction with a bath of spin 1/2 nuclei. Conditions necessary for long lived coherence are identified, and a simple yet robust model for sensing magnetic field orientation is presented.
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Read also: Eye bath’ to thank for quantum vision in birds

Written by physicsgg

August 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm

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