Quantum coherence and sensitivity of avian magnetoreception
Bandyopadhyay, Jayendra N.
Date of Issue2012
School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
Migratory birds and other species have the ability to navigate by sensing the geomagnetic field. Recent experiments indicate that the essential process in the navigation takes place in the bird’s eye and uses chemical reaction involving molecular ions with unpaired electron spins (radical pair). Sensing is achieved via geomagnetic-dependent dynamics of the spins of the unpaired electrons. Here we utilize the results of two behavioral experiments conducted on European robins to argue that the average lifetime of the radical pair is of the order of a microsecond and therefore agrees with experimental estimations of this parameter for cryptochrome—a pigment believed to form the radical pairs. We also find a reasonable parameter regime where the sensitivity of the avian compass is enhanced by environmental noise, showing that long coherence time is not required for navigation and may even spoil it.
Physical review letters
© 2012 American Physical Society. This paper was published in Physical Review Letters and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of American Physical Society. The paper can be found at the following official DOI: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.110502]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.