(ScienceDaily) Physicists in Israel have created a quantum interferometer on an atom chip. This device can be used to explore the fundamentals of quantum theory by studying the interference pattern between two beams of atoms. University of Groningen physicist, Anupam Mazumdar, describes how the device could be adapted to use mesoscopic particles instead of atoms. This modification would allow for expanded applications.
The actual implementation of this experiment is still a long way off, but Mazumdar is very excited now that the interferometer has been created. ‘It is already [a] quantum sensor, although we still have to work out exactly what it can detect. The experiment is like the first steps of a baby — now, we have to guide it to reach maturity.’
The device which scientists from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev created is a so-called Stern Gerlach Interferometer, which was first proposed one hundred years ago by German physicists Otto Stern and Walter Gerlach. Their original aim of creating an interferometer with freely propagating atoms exposed to gradients from macroscopic magnets has not been practically realized until now. ‘Such experiments have been done using photons, but never with atoms’, explains Anupam Mazumdar, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Groningen.