Letter | Published:

Ghost imaging with atoms

Nature volume 540, pages 100103 (01 December 2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Ghost imaging is a counter-intuitive phenomenon—first realized in quantum optics1,2—that enables the image of a two-dimensional object (mask) to be reconstructed using the spatio-temporal properties of a beam of particles with which it never interacts. Typically, two beams of correlated photons are used: one passes through the mask to a single-pixel (bucket) detector while the spatial profile of the other is measured by a high-resolution (multi-pixel) detector. The second beam never interacts with the mask. Neither detector can reconstruct the mask independently, but temporal cross-correlation between the two beams can be used to recover a ‘ghost’ image. Here we report the realization of ghost imaging using massive particles instead of photons. In our experiment, the two beams are formed by correlated pairs of ultracold, metastable helium atoms3, which originate from s-wave scattering of two colliding Bose–Einstein condensates4,5. We use higher-order Kapitza–Dirac scattering6,7,8 to generate a large number of correlated atom pairs, enabling the creation of a clear ghost image with submillimetre resolution. Future extensions of our technique could lead to the realization of ghost interference9, and enable tests of Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen entanglement9 and Bell’s inequalities10 with atoms.

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Acknowledgements

A.G.T. acknowledges the support of the Australian Research Council (ARC) through the Future Fellowship grant FT100100468 and the Discovery grant DP120101390. S.S.H. acknowledges the support of the ARC through the DECRA Fellowship DE150100315. We thank A. T. Friberg for discussions.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia

    • R. I. Khakimov
    • , B. M. Henson
    • , D. K. Shin
    • , S. S. Hodgman
    • , R. G. Dall
    • , K. G. H. Baldwin
    •  & A. G. Truscott

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Contributions

R.I.K., R.G.D. and A.G.T. conceived the experiment. R.I.K. performed the experiment and collected the data. All authors contributed to the conceptual formulation of the physics, the interpretation of the data and the writing of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. G. Truscott.

Reviewer Information Nature thanks M. A. Kasevich and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Extended data

Extended data figures

  1. 1.

    The object.

  2. 2.

    Ghost image visibility.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature20154

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