experimental physics

The European Physical Journal C - Particles and Fields

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 479-491

First online:

Study of the neutron quantum states in the gravity field

  • V. V. NesvizhevskyAffiliated withInstitut Laue-Langevin Email author 
  • , A. K. PetukhovAffiliated withInstitut Laue-Langevin
  • , H. G. BörnerAffiliated withInstitut Laue-Langevin
  • , T. A. BaranovaAffiliated withPetersburg Nuclear Physics Institute
  • , A. M. GagarskiAffiliated withPetersburg Nuclear Physics Institute
  • , G. A. PetrovAffiliated withPetersburg Nuclear Physics Institute
  • , K. V. ProtasovAffiliated withLaboratoire de Physique Subatomique et de Cosmologie, IN2P3-CNRS-UJF
  • , A. Yu VoroninAffiliated withLebedev Institute
  • , S. BaeßlerAffiliated withUniversity of Mainz
    • , H. AbeleAffiliated withUniversity of Heidelberg
    • , A. WestphalAffiliated withDESY
    • , L. LucovacAffiliated withUniversité Joseph-Fourier

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We have studied neutron quantum states in the potential well formed by the earth’s gravitational field and a horizontal mirror. The estimated characteristic sizes of the neutron wave functions in the two lowest quantum states correspond to expectations with an experimental accuracy. A position-sensitive neutron detector with an extra-high spatial resolution of \(\sim 2 \mathrm{\mu} \)m was developed and tested for this particular experiment, to be used to measure the spatial density distribution in a standing neutron wave above a mirror for a set of some of the lowest quantum states. The present experiment can be used to set an upper limit for an additional short-range fundamental force. We studied methodological uncertainties as well as the feasibility of improving further the accuracy of this experiment.