Letter abstract

Nature Physics 3, 711 - 715 (2007)
Published online: 19 August 2007 | doi:10.1038/nphys701

Subject Categories: Atomic and molecular physics | Quantum physics

A Kapitza–Dirac–Talbot–Lau interferometer for highly polarizable molecules

Stefan Gerlich1, Lucia Hackermüller1,6, Klaus Hornberger2, Alexander Stibor1,7, Hendrik Ulbricht1, Michael Gring1, Fabienne Goldfarb1,8, Tim Savas3, Marcel Müri4, Marcel Mayor4,5 & Markus Arndt1


Research on matter waves is a thriving field of quantum physics and has recently stimulated many investigations with electrons1, neutrons2, atoms3, Bose-condensed ensembles4, cold clusters5 and hot molecules6. Coherence experiments with complex objects are of interest for exploring the transition to classical physics7, 8, 9, for measuring molecular properties10, and they have even been proposed for testing new models of space-time11. For matter-wave experiments with complex molecules, the strongly dispersive effect of the interaction between the diffracted molecule and the grating wall is a major challenge because it imposes enormous constraints on the velocity selection of the molecular beam12. Here, we describe the first experimental realization of a new set-up that solves this problem by combining the advantages of a so-called Talbot–Lau interferometer13 with the benefits of an optical phase grating.

  1. Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, Boltzmanngasse 5, A-1090 Wien, Austria
  2. Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Theresienstrasse 37, 80333 München, Germany
  3. Nanostructures Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139-4307, USA
  4. University of Basel, Department of Chemistry, St Johannsring 19, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland
  5. Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe GmbH, Institute for Nanotechnology, PO Box 3640, D-76021 Karlsruhe, Germany
  6. Present address: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Staudingerweg 7, 55099 Mainz, Germany
  7. Present address: Phys. Institut der Universität Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 14, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany
  8. Present address: Laboratoire Aimé Cotton, CNRS-UPR 3321, Bat. 505, Campus Univ., F-91405 Orsay, France

Correspondence to: Markus Arndt1 e-mail: markus.arndt@univie.ac.at


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