Quantum Interference of Clusters and Large Molecules

Sunday, 15 February 2015: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 230A (San Jose Convention Center)
Nadine Dörre, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Matter-wave interferometry with atoms and molecules has attracted a rapidly growing interest over the past two decades, both in demonstrations of fundamental quantum phenomena and in quantum-enhanced precision measurements. Such experiments exploit the non-classical superposition of two or more position and momentum states which are coherently split and rejoined to interfere. Here, we present the experimental realization of a universal near-field interferometer built from three short-pulse single-photon ionization gratings. We observe quantum interference of fast molecular clusters, with a composite de Broglie wavelength as small as 275 fm. Optical ionization gratings are largely independent of the specific internal level structure and are therefore universally applicable to different kinds of nanoparticles, ranging from atoms to clusters, molecules and nanospheres. The interferometer is sensitive to fringe shifts as small as a few nanometers and yet robust against velocity-dependent phase shifts, since the gratings exist only for nanoseconds and form an interferometer in the time domain.