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Single molecules in a quantum movie
Date:3/25/2012

to quantum fluctuations and strongly affect the observed interference pattern. In order to reduce the van der Waals interaction the scientists used gratings as thin as 10 nanometers (only about 50 silicon nitride layers). These ultra-thin gratings were manufactured by the nanotechnology team around Ori Cheshnovski at the Tel Aviv University who used a focused ion beam to cut the required slits into a free-standing membrane.

Tailored nanoparticles

Already in this study the experiments could be extended to phthalocyanine heavier derivatives which were tailor-made by Marcel Mayor and his group at the University of Basel. They represent the most massive molecules in quantum far-field diffraction so far.

Motivation and continuation

The newly developed and combined micro- and nanotechnologies for generating, diffracting and detecting molecular beams will be important for extending quantum interference experiments to more and more complex molecules but also for atom interferometry.

The experiments have a strongly didactical component: they reveal the single-particle character of complex quantum diffraction patterns on a macroscopic scale that is visible to the eye. You can see them emerge in real-time and they last for hours on the screen. The experiments thus render the wave-particle duality of quantum physics particularly tangible and conspicuous.

The experiments have a practical side, too. They allow to access molecular properties close to solid interfaces and they show a way towards future diffraction studies at atomically thin membranes.


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Contact: Markus Arndt
markus.arndt@univie.ac.at
43-142-775-1210
University of Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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