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Resonance

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 16–31 | Cite as

Quantum interference of molecules

Probing the wave nature of matter
  • Anu VenugopalanEmail author
General / Article
  • 107 Downloads

Abstract

The double-slit interference experiment has been famously described by Richard Feynman as containing the “only mystery of quantum mechanics”. While the double-slit experiment for light is easily understood in terms of its wave nature, the very same experiment for particles like the electron is somewhat more difficult to comprehend. It has taken almost six decades after the establishment of its wave nature to carry out a ‘double-slit interference’ experiment for electrons. This has set the stage for interference experiments with atoms and molecules. In the last decade there has been a spectacular progress in matter-wave intereference experiments. Today, molecules with over a hundred atoms can be made to interfere. In this article we discuss some of these exciting developments which probe new regimes of Nature, bringing us closer to the heart of quantum mechanics and its hidden mysteries.

Keywords

Matter waves wave-particle duality electron interference decoherence 

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Suggested Reading

  1. [1]
    R P Feynman et al, The Feynman Lectures, Vol.3, Addison-Wesley, 2006.Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    The Double-Slit Experiment, Physics World, p.15, September 2002. An extended version of this article including three letters about the history of the double-slit experiment with single electrons is available at http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/9745.
  3. [3]
    A Tonomura et al., Demonstration of single electron build up of an interference pattern, American Journal of Physics, Vol.57, No.2, February 1989. A nice description of this experiment can also be found at the Hitachi web site: http://www.hqrd.hitachi.co.jp/global/doubleslit.cfm.
  4. [4]
    A non-technical description of the Fullerene diffraction experiments can be found at the web site of Anton Zeilinger’s Research group at the Universitit Wien, Austria: http://www.quantum.univie.ac.at/research/matterwave/c60/index.html.
  5. [5]
    Anu Venugopalan, The Coming of a Classical World, Resonance: Journal of Science Education, Vol.9, No.10, 2004. The birth of quantum mechanics is intimately linked with discoveries relating to the nature of light.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University School of Basic and Applied Sciences GGS Indraprastha UniversityDelhiIndia

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