Matter-wave physics with nanoparticles and biomolecules

Christian Brand, Sandra Eibenberger, Ugur Sezer, Markus Arndt

The chapter discusses advances in matter-wave optics with complex molecules, generalizing Young’s double slit to high masses. The quantum wave-particle duality is visualized by monitoring the arrival patterns of molecules diffracted at nanomechanical masks. Each molecule displays particle behavior when it is localized on the detector; however, the overall interference pattern requires their delocalization in free flight. Internal particle properties influence the de Broglie waves in the presence of surfaces or fields—even in interaction with atomically thin gratings. To probe the quantum nature of high-mass molecules, universal beam splitters are combined in a multi-grating interferometer to observe high-contrast matter-wave fringes even for 500 K hot molecules, containing 810 atoms with a mass of 10 000 amu. The high sensitivity of the nanoscale interference fringes to deflection in external fields enables non-invasive measurements of molecular properties. The chapter concludes by discussing research on beam techniques that extend molecular quantum optics to large biomolecules.

Quantum Optics, Quantum Nanophysics and Quantum Information
External organisation(s)
Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
103026 Quantum optics
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