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Department of Physics

Cavendish Laboratory

Studying at Cambridge


Dr. Alex Chin

Dr. Alex Chin

Winton Advanced Research Fellow in the Physics of Sustainability

Fellow of Robinson College

Room 540, Mott Building
Cavendish Laboratory
JJ Thomson Avenue

Cambridge CB3 0HE
Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 337458


Bachelor (2002) and Masters (2003) in Theoretical Physics from Trinity College, Cambridge and PhD (With Prof P. B. Littlewood) in theoretical condensed matter physics at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge (2008). From 2009 Senior Postdoctoral Researcher in the group of Prof Martin Plenio in the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Ulm University, joined Winton Programme as a Winton Advanced Research Fellow in January 2012.

Research Interests

Over the last few years, compelling experimental and theoretical evidence has emerged which suggests that non-classical properties of quantum mechanics may play an important role in the remarkably high efficiency and sensitivity of important biological processes, such as avian navigation, olfaction and photosynthetic light harvesting. My research is focused on the theoretical aspects of the new field of Quantum Effects in Biological Systems (QUEBS), and combines techniques from condensed matter theory, quantum optics and physical chemistry to investigate the novel physics of biomolecular processes at the boundary of quantum and classical descriptions. With the support of the Winton Programme and the Cavendish Laboratory, I am exploring general (quantum) design principles which might optimise the performance of light-harvesting in natural photosynthesis, and intend to investigate how these biologically engineered strategies might be used to improve artificial technologies, such as organic photovoltaic devices. An important part of these activities involves fundamental work on open quantum systems, non-equilibirum quantum dynamics and the development of atomistic descriptions of complex, optically active materials (both artificial and biological), leading to strong interests in quantum information science, atomic and molecular optics and many-body simulation theory and computation. 

Key Publications

A. W. Chin, J. Prior, R. Rosenbach, F. Caycedo-Soler, S. F. Huelga and M. B. Plenio. "The role of non-equilibrium vibrational structures in electronic coherence and recoherence in pigment-protein complexes". Nature Physics, Advanced online publication, doi:10.1038/nphys2515 (2013)

A. W. Chin, S. F. Huelga and M. B. Plenio. "Quantum metrology in non-Markovian environments". Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 233601 (2012).

A. W. Chin, J. Prior, S. F. Huelga and M. B. Plenio. "A variational description of the quantum phase transition in the sub-Ohmic spin-boson model". Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 16, (2011).

J. Prior, A. W. Chin, S. F. Huelga and M. B. Plenio. "Efficient simulation of strong system-environment interactions". Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 5, 050404 & Virtual Journal of Biophysical Research (AIP) (2010).

F.Caruso, A. W. Chin, A. Datta, S. F. Huelga and M. B. Plenio "Entanglement and entangling power of dynamics in light harvesting complexes". Phys. Rev. A 81, 062346 & Virtual Journal of Biophysical Research (AIP) (2010).

F. Caruso, A. W. Chin, A. Datta, S. F. Huelga and M. B. Plenio. "Highly efficient energy excitation transfer in light-harvesting complexes: The fundamental role of noise-assisted transport". J. Chem. Phys. 131, 105106 & Virtual Journal of Biophysical Research (AIP) (2009).