Influence of molecular temperature on the coherence of fullerenes in a near-field interferometer

Author(s): K. Hornberger, L. Hackermüller, M. Arndt

Journal: Phys. Rev. A

Volume: 71

Page(s): 023601

Year: 2005

DOI Number: 10.1103/PhysRevA.71.023601

Link: Link to publication

Abstract:

We study C70 fullerene matter waves in a Talbot-Lau interferometer as a function of their temperature. While the ideal fringe visibility is observed at moderate molecular temperatures, we find a gradual degradation of the interference contrast if the molecules are heated before entering the interferometer. A method is developed to assess the distribution of the microcanonical temperatures of the molecules in free flight. This way the heating-dependent reduction of interference contrast can be compared with the predictions of quantum theory. We find that the observed loss of coherence agrees quantitatively with the expected decoherence rate due to the thermal radiation emitted by the hot molecules.

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