Design Principles Confer Optimal Light Harvesting in Plants | The Institute for Creation Research
Design Principles Confer Optimal Light Harvesting in Plants
Photosynthesis in plants starts with the absorption of light energy from sunlight, but scientists have been baffled as to how plants utilize the noisy solar spectrum to power the photosynthetic process. By applying engineering principles used to construct wireless antennae reception and energy transfer in human-designed systems, scientists uncovered an ingenious system of design for light harvesting in plants.1

Photosynthesis is a highly complex process in plants that produces carbohydrates from water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight using a light-to-electron energy conversion process that operates at near-perfect levels of quantum efficiency. The light energy harvesting process to fuel this amazing system starts with the absorption of sunlight. In the machinery of the plant cell, the light-based energy is rapidly transferred from a specialized antenna network to a reaction center, where a charge transfer process converts photon-based light energy into electrochemical energy.

One of the primary engineering design challenges for such a system is that light occurs in a broad spectrum of wavelengths and must interact with rapidly fluctuating molecular structures in the plant cell along with highly intricate energy transfer pathways. This produces a delicate interplay of physics-based quantum effects with many complex design hurdles. In other words, sunlight would be considered an exceptionally noisy energy input that must be accurately and precisely filtered or system failure would be inevitable.

In this new study, scientists cast their unproductive evolutionary mindsets aside and borrowed ideas from human engineering of complex networks, a field of study that seeks to develop efficient operations in cellphone networks and the power grid.1 Their design-based model applied to photosynthesis revealed an efficient cellular system that is able to extract and input light of two different color spectra, yet output a consistently steady rate of solar power. This highly unusual (to human minds) choice of two distinct spectral inputs has remarkable consequences towards the efficiency of photosynthesis.

Nathaniel M. Gabor, a physicist from the University of California, Riverside, was the lead investigator on the project and said,

Our model shows that by absorbing only very specific colors of light, photosynthetic organisms may automatically protect themselves against sudden changes—or 'noise'—in solar energy, resulting in remarkably efficient power conversion.2

Noting the efficiency and elegance of the photosynthetic design plan, Gabor’s thoughts immediately turned to exploiting the discovery for man-made applications and said, "Our study shows how, by choosing where you absorb solar energy in relation to the incident solar spectrum, you can minimize the noise on the output—information that can be used to enhance the performance of solar cells."

This new study not only highlights the amazing engineering of God’s creative handiwork, but also shows how abandoning the failed assumptions of evolutionary myth where somehow complex systems evolve by random processes for a design-based approach to studying life is incredibly fruitful for research.

References
1. Arp, T. B. et al. 2020. Quieting a noisy antenna reproduces photosynthetic light-harvesting spectra. Science. 368 (6498).
2. Pittalwala, I. Why Are Plants Green? ScienceDaily. Posted on sciencedaily.com June 25, 2020, accessed June 30, 2020.

*Dr. Tomkins is Director of Research at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in genetics from Clemson University.
The Latest
NEWS
Was a Franken-Fish “Created”?
In 2020, Hungarian zoologists described the hybridization of a Russian sturgeon and American paddlefish.1 Some sources have reported the scientists...

NEWS
"100-Million-Year-Old" Bacteria?
Researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology have recovered what they claim are 100-million-year-old microbes. Drilling 74.5...

NEWS
Origin of Tectonic Plates Best Explained by the Flood
A new study published in Nature Communications claims to have figured out how the tectonic plates may have originated.1 It’s been over...

NEWS
Give Today and Support Biblical Creation Ministry
North Texas Giving Day is here once again! Will you help us reach the next generation? Your generosity will empower ICR and our Dallas Museum—the...

NEWS
Mammalian Brains Prove Evolutionary Disconnect
The evolutionary model of brain development predicted that the complexity of neural connectivity should have increased as brains became larger and the...

NEWS
North Texas Giving Day Next Week!
North Texas Giving Day is almost here! Will you help us reach the next generation? Your generosity will empower ICR and the ICR Discovery Center for Science...

NEWS
Celebrating One Year at the ICR Discovery Center
Thank you to all who joined us for the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History’s First Anniversary Celebration! ICR staff enjoyed meeting...

NEWS
New Evidence Hurts Feathered Dinosaur Theory
Is a dinosaur still a dinosaur if it has flight feathers? A new study points to some fascinating evidence that contradicts the idea of feathered dinosaurs...

NEWS
New Planetarium Show: Exploring Deep Space
The ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History is celebrating its first anniversary since the Grand Opening on September 2, 2019. To commemorate...

NEWS
Inside September 2020 Acts & Facts
What's the story behind ICR's new President? What milestone are we celebrating this month at the ICR Discovery Center? How do comets affirm...