Quantum interferometric visibility as a witness of general relativistic proper time

Author(s): M. Zych, F. M. Costa, I. Pikovski, Č. Brukner

Journal: Nature communications

Volume: 2

Page(s): 505

Year: 2011

DOI Number: 10.1038/ncomms1498

Link: Link to publication


Current attempts to probe general relativistic effects in quantum mechanics focus on precision measurements of phase shifts in matter–wave interferometry. Yet, phase shifts can always be explained as arising because of an Aharonov–Bohm effect, where a particle in a flat space–time is subject to an effective potential. Here we propose a quantum effect that cannot be explained without the general relativistic notion of proper time. We consider interference of a 'clock'—a particle with evolving internal degrees of freedom—that will not only display a phase shift, but also reduce the visibility of the interference pattern. According to general relativity, proper time flows at different rates in different regions of space–time. Therefore, because of quantum complementarity, the visibility will drop to the extent to which the path information becomes available from reading out the proper time from the 'clock'. Such a gravitationally induced decoherence would provide the first test of the genuine general relativistic notion of proper time in quantum mechanics.

Note: http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.4531

File: Link to PDF

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