Coherence in the presence of absorption and heating in a molecule interferometer

Author(s): J. P. Cotter, S. Eibenberger, L. Mairhofer, X. Cheng, P. Asenbaum, M. Arndt, K. Walter, S. Nimmrichter, K. Hornberger

Journal: Nature communications

Volume: 6

Page(s): 7336

Year: 2015

DOI Number: doi:10.1038/ncomms8336

Link: Link to publication


Matter-wave interferometry can be used to probe the foundations of physics and to enable precise measurements of particle properties and fundamental constants. It relies on beam splitters that coherently divide the wave function. In atom interferometers, such elements are often realised using lasers by exploiting the dipole interaction or through photon absorption. It is intriguing to extend these ideas to complex molecules where the energy of an absorbed photon can rapidly be redistributed across many internal degrees of freedom. Here, we provide evidence that center-of-mass coherence can be maintained even when the internal energy and entropy of the interfering particle are substantially increased by absorption of photons from a standing light wave. Each photon correlates the molecular center-of-mass wave function with its internal temperature and splits it into a superposition with opposite momenta in addition to the beam-splitting action of the optical dipole potential.

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