The three pulsed laser gratings flash for only a few nanosceconds in the experiment.
Credit: J. Rodewald/QNP/University of Vienna

Invisible tool enables new quantum experiments with atoms, molecules, clusters and other nanoparticles

February 11, 2013

Experiments on the quantum wave nature of atoms and molecules have enabled researchers to precisely measure tiny forces and displacements as well as to shed light onto the unexplored zone between the microscopic realm of quantum physics and our everyday world. Physicists around Philipp Haslinger and Markus Arndt at the University of Vienna have now succeeded in constructing a novel matter wave interferometer which enables new quantum studies with a broad class of particles, including atoms, molecules and nanoparticles. These lumps of matter are exposed to three pulsed laser light gratings which are invisible to the human eye, exist only for a billionth of a second and never simultaneously.

The new results are reported in the advanced online issue of Nature Physics.

Matter wave interferometry has a long standing tradition at the University of Vienna, where the first quantum interference of large molecules has already been observed in 1999. Nowadays scientists are hunting down evidence for the quantum mechanical behavior of increasingly complex constituents of matter. This is done in experiments in which the flying of each particle seems to obtain information about distinct places in space, which are inaccessible according to classical physics.

Read more: Invisible tool enables new quantum experiments with atoms, molecules, clusters and other nanoparticles — phys.org.

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