Interferometers from two separate crystals have been developed for the first time in neutron Physics

Interferometers from two separate crystals have been developed for the first time in neutron Physics ...

Researchers from TU Vienna, INRIM Turin, and ILL Grenoble have discovered a neutron interferometer that can measure two different crystals at the same time, a characteristic of quantum physics.

The interferometer's principle is similar to that of the famous double-slit experiment, in which a particle is shot at a double slit in a wave-like manner, passes through both slits simultaneously as a wave, and superimposes on itself, creating a characteristic wave pattern at the detector, according to Hartmut Lemmel from TU Wien.

While a modern interferometer can split the two waves on the scale of centimeters, any error can destroy the effect. The crystal used is carved from a single piece and attempts to expand the experiment have failed so far. The precision required to aim the interferometer at the crystals atom is equivalent to a marksman trying to hit a drain cover situated on the surface of the Earth.

According to Michael Jentschel of the ILL, this is a significant breakthrough in neutron interferometry. Because if you can control two crystals sufficiently that interferometry is possible, you may also increase the distance and the size of the overall system quite easily.

To achieve success in using two crystals with an interferometer, the researchers have used optical technology advances to aim more precisely at the crystal while also using vibration damping, temperature stabilization, and overall assembly and alignment.

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