New look for classic experiment
Date: Thursday, March 03, 2005 @ 23:17:16 GMT
Topic: Science

Physicists in Europe and the US have performed a novel version of the double-slit quantum-interference experiment with single electrons. In the classic version of the experiment, electrons pass through a mask containing two parallel slits and produce a pattern of bright and dark interference fringes on a screen. Now, Gerhard Paulus of Texas A&M University and co-workers in Berlin, Munich, Sarajevo and Vienna have observed an interference pattern with electrons that pass through a double slit in time, not space, as a result of being ejected from an atom at one of two possible times by a laser pulse...

The latest experiment is radically different because the slits exist in time not space, and because the interference pattern appears when the number of electrons at the detector is plotted as a function of their energy rather than their position on a screen. The work was performed at the Technical University of Vienna in collaboration with physicists from the Max Born Institute in Berlin, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Munich and the University of Sarajevo.
Other physicists are impressed by the work. "This experiment should be included in every textbook on quantum mechanics," says Wolfgang Schleich, a quantum physicist at the University of Ulm in Germany. "It certainly will be in mine."

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