Phosphorous atoms could serve as biochemical qubits for quantum computing in the human brain

Researcher Matthew Fisher is leading the $1.2 million QuBrain project to see if the human brain utilizes any quantum computing. Fisher asserts that nuclear spins (at the core of the atom, rather than the surrounding electrons) could provide quantum computing in the human brain.

“Extremely well-isolated nuclear spins can store — and perhaps process — quantum information on human time scales of hours or longer,” he said. Fisher posits that phosphorus atoms — one of the most abundant elements in the body — have the requisite nuclear spin that could serve as a biochemical qubit. One of the experimental thrusts of the collaboration will be to monitor the quantum properties of phosphorus atoms, particularly entanglement between two phosphorus nuclear spins when bonded together in a molecule undergoing biochemical processes.

Helgeson and Alexej Jerschow, a professor of chemistry at New York University, will investigate the dynamics and nuclear spin of Posner molecules — spherically shaped calcium phosphate nano-clusters — and whether they have the ability to protect the nuclear spins of the phosphorus atom qubits, which could promote the storage of quantum information. They will also explore the potential for non-local quantum information processing that could be enabled by pair-binding and disassociation of Posner molecules.

Tobias Fromme, a scientist at the Technical University of Munich, will study the potential contribution of mitochondria to entanglement and their quantum coupling to neurons. He will determine if these cellular organelles — responsible for functions such as metabolism and cell signaling — can transport Posner molecules within and between neurons via their tubular networks.