Coherence and decoherence in de Broglie interference of fullerenes

Markus Arndt, Olaf Nairz, Julia Petschinka, Julian Voss-Andreae, Gerbrand van der Zouw, Claudia Keller, Anton Zeilinger

Summary form only given, as follows. In a recent experiment we were able to demonstrate the de Broglie wave character of the fullerene molecule C/sub 60/ by diffraction at a free standing material grating. This proves that it is possible to preserve quantum coherence almost completely in the external degrees of freedom of a hot, massive and complex object over a long time and distance. This may seem astonishing in the light of the fact that the fullerenes were produced in a thermal source which was kept at about 900 K. At such a high temperature the de Broglie wavelength is about 400 times smaller than the size of the molecule (/spl lambda//sub dB//spl sim/25 pm), all internal degrees of freedom (174 different vibrational modes, and rotational modes up to J>100) are excited and the molecules may emit a few infrared photons (blackbody radiation and vibrational quanta) during their time of flight through the apparatus. Our published measurements so far have been essentially consistent with the absence of decoherence during the time of flight of the molecules. The interference contrast in all experiments has however so far been limited by the thermal velocity spread and the finite collimation of the fullerene beam.

External organisation(s)
Universität Wien
No. of pages
Publication date
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
103026 Quantum optics
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