New record achieved: currently most-extended molecule chains show quantum interference

17. Aug 2007  — Nature Physics reports on the implementation of a new interferometer for matter waves in the labs of the University of Vienna. The novel experimental design enables the study of wave-particle dualism with objects in an unpredecented region of mass and complexity.


New record achieved: currently most-extended molecule chains show quantum interference


As a first result, a new world record was achieved for showing that azobenzene derivatives closely obey the rules of quantum physics on their way through the experiment. These molecules are in fact four times longer than the Fullerene C70 which was utilized in previous experiments of a team of Viennese scientists led by Markus Arndt.

The difficulty of such experiments is routed in the smallness of the wavelength which decreases with higher masses. In the Viennese experiments the researchers have to deal with wavelengths only a billionth of a millimeter and a thousand times smaller than the molecules themselves.

The Viennese scientists were supported by the group of chemist Marcel Mayor at the university of Basel, by the theoretical physicist Klaus Hornberger of the LMU Munich and by Tim Savas, MIT.

A Kapitza-Dirac-Talbot-Lau interferometer for highly polarizable molecules

Authors: Stefan Gerlich1,Lucia Hackermüller1, Klaus Hornberger2, Alexander Stibor1, Hendrik Ulbricht1, Michael Gring1, Fabienne Goldfarb1, Tim Savas3, Marcel Müri4, Marcel Mayor4 and Markus Arndt1.

[1] Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna,  in collaboration with [2] Theoretical Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, [3] Nanostructures Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge  [4] University of Basel 

A documentary film about the experiment through Wolfgang Haberl will be presented at the First European Festival of Educational and Science Films from the 22nd to the 25th of November 2007 in Vienna. The aim of the festival is to enhance the availability and the interdisciplinary interchange among research, education and public. For  more details please visit

www.sciencefilmfest.at