Science in Society Archive

Quantum Coherent Water and Life

Water is quantum coherent under ordinary conditions, according to a quantum electrodynamics field theory that may explain many of its most paradoxical properties including life itself. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Water, the simplest, commonest compound on earth, also has the most complex properties and baffling ‘anomalies’ that make it essential for life. Generations of brilliant scientists have pitched their wits and sophisticated instrumentations in the hope of unravelling the secrets of water but in vain.

Perhaps the most significant discovery within the past 30 years is that water has quantum properties under ambient conditions, and may even be quantum coherent, as revealed by nuclear magnetic resonance measurements (see [1] Cooperative and Coherent Water and other articles in the series, SiS 48).  

However, neither classical nor standard quantum theory predicts quantum coherence for water, largely because they ignore quantum fluctuations and the interaction between matter and electromagnetic field, which are taken into account in a quantum electrodynamics (QED) field theory.

Quantum fluctuations and coupling between matter and electromagnetic field in QED indeed predicts quantum coherence for liquid water even under ordinary temperatures and pressures, according to Emilio Del Giudice and his colleagues at Milan University, who have been researching this problem since the 1990s.  Their theory suggests that interaction between the vacuum electromagnetic field and liquid water induces the formation of large, stable coherent domains (CDs) of about 100 nm in diameter at ambient conditions, and these CDs may be responsible for all the special properties of water including life itself [2-5].

Quantum electrodynamics of condensed matter and water

Quantum field theory explicitly recognizes an extended vacuum field – ‘zero point field’ – interacting with matter, as well as quantum fluctuations whereby energy in the vacuum field in the form of photons could be captured by matter. Quantum field theory combines Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics with the energy-matter equivalence of Einstein’s special relativity [6]; in other words, DE ~ 1/Dt is combined with E = mc2.

Quantum field theory began in the 1920s and 1930s with the work of Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac and others, and later, Richard Feynman and Freeman Dyson. But standard quantum field theory still does not explain water adequately.

In standard quantum field theory, the energy levels of material systems are shifted by their interaction with the fluctuations of the electromagnetic (EM) fields in the vacuum. The first clear example was the “Lamb shift”, the energy of an electron surrounding the proton in a hydrogen atom is slightly lower than the value calculated from the atomic theory based on purely static forces. Although this shift is very small, it provided evidence of the quantum vacuum fluctuation that has to be understood within the framework of quantum electrodynamics. In the case of the hydrogen atom, the effect is due to the interactions between the electric current of the electron orbiting the nucleus and the fluctuating electromagnetic field of the surrounding space (vacuum).

For a collection of particles, the usual approach is to apply the Lamb shift to each particle separately. While this is correct for very low density systems like gases, where the distance between any two particles is larger than the wavelength of the relevant fluctuating fields coupled to the systems, dense systems – condensed matter or liquids and solids - show entirely different behaviour.

When energy is absorbed from the vacuum field, the particles will begin to oscillate between two configurations. In particular, all particles coupled to the same wave-length of the fluctuations will oscillate in phase with the EM field, that is, they will be coherent with the EM field. The total energy of the system, Etot, is a combination of the energy of the fluctuating EM field, Efl, and the energy of excitation of the particles shifted from their ground state to the excited configuration, Eexc, plus the Eint of the Lamb-like shift,

Etot  = Efl + Eexc + Eint                                                                                   (1)

While Efl and Eexc are positive, Eint is negative. As shown by Preparata in 1995 [7], Efl and Eexc are proportional to the number N of particles in a coherence domain (CD), but Eint is proportional to NN. Consequently, there is a critical number of particles Ncrit enclosed in a CD for which Etot = 0. At that point, a phase transition occurs. The coherent oscillations of the particles in the CD no longer require any external supply of energy, and the oscillation is stabilized. Moreover, the CDs will begin to attract more molecules, and attract each other, thereby turning gas into liquid in a change of phase. With further increase in density, the system becomes a net exporter of energy because the stabilized coherent state has a lower energy than the incoherent ground state (see later).

The size of the CD is just the wavelength l of the trapped EMF.  The collective coherent oscillation of the molecules in the CD occurs between the coherent ground state and an excited state, whose volume, according to atomic physics, is wider than the ground state volume. The wavelength l of the trapped EMF, and hence the size of the CD is about 100 nm, as it depends on the excitation energy E according to the equation:

l = hc/Eexc                                                                                          (2)

The CD is a self-produced cavity for the EMF; the photon of the trapped EMF acquires an imaginary mass, and is therefore unable to leave the CD. Because of this self-trapping of the EMF, the frequency of the CD EMF becomes much smaller than the frequency of the free field having the same wavelength. This result applies to all gas-liquid transitions.

Coherent water is a source of almost free electrons

The special thing about water is that the coherent oscillation occurs between the ground state and an excited state at 12.06 eV (electron volt), which is just below the ionizing threshold at 12.60 eV, when H2O → 2H+ + O2-. A liquid water CD of 100 nm diameter contains millions of water molecules, and includes an ensemble (or plasma) of millions of almost free electrons that can be donated readily to electron acceptors dissolved in the water.

Some 60 years ago, the father of biochemistry, Hungarian born US scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi had already highlighted the importance of water for life [8, 9], and proposed that organized water existing close to surfaces such as cell membranes, is able to induce a very long lasting electronic excitation of the different molecular species present, thereby activating them and enabling their mutual attraction for reactions to take place (see later).

According to calculations performed by Preparata, Del Giudice and colleagues, the water CD is a quantum superposition of ground coherent state and excited state in the proportion of 0.87 and 0.13, giving an average energy of excitation per molecule of 1.56 eV. This is combined with the energy of the fluctuation electromagnetic field of 3.52eV and the interaction energy of -5.34 eV, according to equation (1), thus resulting in a negative energy of -26 eV per molecule. The renormalized (physically observable) frequency of the trapped EMF in the CD corresponding to 0.26 eV is 6.24 x 1013 Hz in the infrared region [3, 4].

Liquid water is therefore a two-fluid system [5] (in analogy with superfluid helium) consisting of a coherent phase (about 40 percent of total volume at room temperature) and an incoherent phase. In the coherent phase, the water molecules oscillate between two electronic configurations in phase with a resonating EMF. The common frequency of the EMF and the electronic oscillation of the coherent phase being 0.26 eV; whereas the energy difference of the two electronic configuration of the coherent phase is 12.06 eV, which gives the wavelength of 1 000 A (100 nm) of the coherence domain. The remaining 60 percent incoherent phase is extracted by thermal fluctuations from the coherent phase. The two phases have widely different dielectric constants: that of the coherent phase is 160, due to the high polarizability of the coherently aligned water molecules that are oscillating in concert; while the dielectric constant of the incoherent state is about 15. The externally applied electric fields are therefore only felt in the non-coherent phase.

This picture of liquid water, according to Del Giudice and colleagues, is reflected in the many observations supporting a two-state model of water (see [1, 10] Two-States Water Explains All? SiS 32), in which a substantial fraction of the molecules exist in hydrogen bonded state resembling that of ordinary ice. In fact, the hydrogen-bonds - short range interactions – are the consequence of the induced coherence in the coherence domains. But there is a rapid interchange of molecules between the CDs and the incoherent phase, hence it is impossible to detect CDs when the detection time is longer than the period of the oscillations, which is less than 10-13 s.

Quantum coherent water and life

Oxidation and reduction or redox reactions are the stuff of energy transduction in living organisms. It involves transfer of electrons from one substance (donor) to another (acceptor) to power all living activities. But where does the electron come from? It comes ultimately from splitting water in photosynthesis by green plants and cyanobacteria. However, it takes 12.60 eV to split water, an energy corresponding to soft X-rays, which is not what the green plants and cyanobacteria use.

More than 50 years ago, Szent-Gyorgyi [9] suggested that water at interfaces was the key. He proposed that water in living organisms existed in two states: the ground state and the excited state, and that water at interfaces such as membranes existed in the excited state, which requires considerably lower energy to split. A sign of the excited water is that a voltage should appear at the boundary between interfacial water and bulk water, which was indeed observed. This property of water enables energy transfer to take place in living organisms ensuring long-lasting electronic excitations. Szent-Gyorgyi’s ideas were largely ignored by the scientific mainstream that became obsessed instead with molecular genetics.

The anomalous water at interfaces has been the subject of numerous research papers and reviews [11], and was already known in the late 1940s, as Del Giudice and colleagues point out [4]. Most if not all water in living organisms is interfacial water, as it is almost never further away from surfaces such as membranes or macromolecules than a fraction of a micron.

A vivid demonstration of interfacial water was achieved by Gerald Pollack’s research team at University of Washington, USA (see [12] Water Forms Massive Exclusion Zones, SiS 23). Using a hydrophilic gel and a suspension of microspheres just visible to the eye, they showed that interfacial water apparently tens of microns or even hundreds of microns  thick forms on the surface of the gel, which excludes the microspheres as well as other solutes such as proteins and dyes, and hence referred to as an ‘exclusion zone’ (EZ).   Formation of EZ depends on fixed charges on the gel. When negatively charged gels were used, a potential difference of -150 mV was measured, in line with Szent-Gyorgyi’s prediction, and protons were also excluded, becoming concentrated just outside the exclusion zone, giving a low pH there. Many other unusual characteristics were found [13].  EZ water is about 10 times as viscous as bulk water, it has a peak of light absorption at 270 nm, and emits fluorescence when excited by light at this wavelength. Illumination of EZ water especially by infrared increases the depth of the layer.

Del Giudice and colleagues [4] suggest that EZ water is in fact a giant coherence domain stabilized on the surface of the attractive gel.  Inside the cell, the EZ would form on surfaces of membranes and macromolecules, as envisaged by Szent-Gyorgi. Because coherent water is excited water with a plasma of almost free electrons, it can easily transfer electrons to molecules on its surface. The interface between fully coherent interfacial water and normal bulk water becomes a “redox pile”. In line with this proposal, EZ water does indeed act as a battery, as Pollack’s research team demonstrated (see Liquid Crystalline Water at the Interface, SiS 39).

Del Giudice and colleagues also argue that water CDs can be easily excited, and are able to collect small external excitations to produce single coherent vortices whose energy is the sum of all the small excitation energies, turning the originally high entropy energy into low entropy coherent energy, which is trapped stably in the water CDs. This coherent energy in turn enables selective coherent energy transfer to take place as follows. All molecules have their own spectrum of vibrational frequencies. If the molecule’s spectrum contain a frequency matching that of the water CD, it would get attracted to the CD, and become a guest participant in the CD’s coherent oscillation, and settle on the CD’s surface. Furthermore, the CD’s excitation energy would become available to the guest molecules as activation energy for chemical reactions to take place. This selectivity may be the reason why out of a hundred different amino acids only 20 have been selected for making proteins in living organisms.

There is indeed independent evidence that molecules taking part in a biochemical reaction do share a common frequency, which is how they attract each other, essentially by resonating to the same frequency (see [15] The Real Bioinformatics Revolution, SiS 33). So it is likely that the reactants are attracted to the surface of the same water CDs, where the reaction will takes place, greatly facilitated by the excitation energy of the water CD. After the reaction, the energy released can also be absorbed by the water CD, shifting the CD’s oscillation frequency, and hence changing the molecular species that become attracted to it, thereby in principle, facilitating the next reaction to take place in a chemical pathway.

Quantum coherence of water is really what makes life possible. It could also account for other strange phenomena such as the formation of a ‘stiff’ water bridge floating in the space just above two beakers of water placed next to each other and subjected to a strong electric field, as explained by Del Giudice and colleagues elsewhere [16], as well as low energy nuclear reactions (or cold fusion) [17], non-thermal electromagnetic field effects on biological system and possibly homeopathy (see [18] Quantum Coherent Water, Non-Thermal Effects, & Homeopathy, SiS 51).         

Article first published 25/07/11


  1. Ho MW. Cooperative and coherent water. Science in Society 48, 6-9, 2010.
  2. Arani R, Bono I, et al. QED coherence and the thermodynamics of the water. Int J Modern Phys B 1995, 9, 1813-41.
  3. Del Giudice E. Old and new views on the structure of matter and the special case of living matter. Journal of Physics: conference Series 2007, 67, 012006.n
  4. Del Giudice E, Spinetti PR and Tedeschi A. Water dynamics at the root of metamorphosis in living organisms. Water 2010, 2, 566-86.
  5. Giudice ED, Fleischmann M, Preparata G and Talpo G. on the “unreasonable” effects of ELF magnetic fields upon a system of ions”. Bioelectromagnetics 2002, 23, 52-30.r
  6. Quantum Field Theory by Anthony Zee, 14 January 2004,
  7. Preparata G.  QED Coherence in Matter, World Scientific, Singapore, 1995.
  8. Szent-Gyorgyi A. Bioenergetics, Science 1956, 124, 873-5.
  9. Szent-Gyorgyi A. Introduction to a Supramolecular Biology, Academic Press, New York, 1960.
  10. Ho MW. Two-states water explains all? Science in Society 32, 17-18, 2006.
  11. Clegg JS.Properties and metabolism of the aqueous cytoplasm and its boundaries. The American Journal of Physiology 1984, 246, R133-51.
  12. Ho MW. Water forms massive exclusion zones. Science in Society 23, 50-51, 2004.
  13. Pollack GH and Clegg J. Unexpected linkage between unstirred layers, exclusion zones, and water. In Phase Transitions in Cell Biology (Pollack GH, Chin WC eds.), pp143-52, Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin, 2008.
  14. Ho MW. Liquid crystalline water at the interface. Science in Society 38, 36-39, 2008.
  15. Ho MW. The real bioinformatics revolution. Science in Society 33, 42-45, 2007.
  16. Del Giudice E, Fuchs ED and Vitiello G. Collective molecular dynamics of a floating water bridge. Water 2010, 2, 69-82.
  17. De Ninno A, Del Giudice E and Frattolillo A. Excess heat and calorimetric calculation. Evidence of coherent nuclear reactions in condensed matter at room temperature. In Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions Sourcebook (Jan Marwan and Steven B. Krivit eds.), American Chemical Society Symposium Series 998, Oxford University Press 2008.
  18. Ho MW. Quantum coherent water, non-thermal EMF effects, and homeopathy. Science in Society 51 (to appear).

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Leopoldo Silvestroni Comment left 5th April 2013 16:04:57
Once formed onto a hydrophilic surface, how long water CDs live? Also, are water CDs onto a hydrophilic surface trailed by fluid streams along that surface?

Antonino Drago Comment left 4th February 2014 18:06:58
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