Modern Anesthetic Ethers Demonstrate Quantum Interactions  with Entangled Photons

George A. Mashour, Center for Consciousness Science, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Theodore Goodson III, Departments of Chemistry and Applied Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Quantum physics has been invoked to explain the mechanism of consciousness (1) and, by corollary, the mechanism of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness (2). There is indirect evidence suggesting that anesthetic action might relate to nuclear spin (3,4). However, there has been no empirical demonstration that general anesthetics can directly interact with entangled quantum particles, which have been posited to mediate information transfer in the brain during consciousness and be disrupted during anesthesia. Using a novel experimental method involving laser and spontaneous parametric down-conversion, we demonstrate that two halogenated ethers in current clinical use absorb entangled photons but under normal excitation powers do not exhibit classical linear and two-photon absorption properties in the visible spectral region. By contrast, non-halogenated ethers that are not in current clinical use do not exhibit quantum two-photon absorption. We conclude that modern anesthetics can directly interact with photons in a state of quantum entanglement. Although the biological relevance of these findings is unknown, the data represent the first proof-of-principle demonstration that general anesthetics can interact with quantum particles in addition to classical biomolecular substrates. 


(1) Hameroff and Penrose, Phys Life Rev, 2014, 11:39-78

(2) Hameroff, Anesthesiology, 2006, 105:400-12

(3) Turin et al, PNAS, 2014, 111: E3524-22

(4) Li et al, Anesthesiology, 2018, 129:271-277