Neutron Interferometry: Lessons in Experimental Quantum Mechanics

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The quantum interference of DeBroglie matter waves is probably one of the most startling and fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics. It continues to tax our imaginations and leads us to new experimental windows on nature. Quantum interference phenomena are vividly displayed in the wide assembly of neutron interferometry experiments, which have been carried out since the first demonstration of a perfect silicon crystal interferometer in 1974. Since the neutron experiences all four fundamental forces of nature (strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational), interferometry with neutrons provides a fertile testing ground for theory and precision measurements. Many Gedanken experiments of quantum mechanics have become real due to neutron interferometry. This book provides the reader with a detailed account of neutron interferometry experiments. The basic ideas and experiments related to coherence properties of matter waves and various post-selection criteria, gravitationally induced phase shifts, Berry's geometrical phase, spinor symmetry and spin superposition, Aharonov-Bohm topological interference effects, and the neutron version of the Sagnac effect are presented in a self-contained and pedagogical way. Interferometry with perfect crystals, artificial lattices, and spin-echo systems are topics of this book. It includes the theoretical motivations as well as connections to other areas of experimental physics, such as quantum optics, nuclear physics, gravitation, and atom interferometry. The book is written in a style that will be suitable at the beginning graduate level, and will excite many students and researchers in neutron physics, quantum optics, and atomic physics. Lecturers teaching courses in modern physics and quantum mechanics will find a number of interesting and historic experiments they may want to include in their lectures.

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Editorial Reviews

For beginning graduate students of neutron, quantum, and atomic physics Rauch (U. of Austria, Vienna) and Werner (physics, U. of Missouri-Columbia) explain the theoretical motivation, instrumentation, and the result analysis of experimentally observing interference between coherently split, well-separated beams of matter waves. They discuss the experiments in terms of various post-selection criteria, gravitationally induced phase shifts, Berry's geometrical phase, spinor symmetry and spin superposition, Aharonov-Bohm topological interference effects, and the neutron version of the Sagnac effect. The interferometry they describe is of perfect crystals, artificial lattices, and spin-echo systems. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Atominstitut der Osterreichischen Universitaten, Vienna

University of Missouri-Columbia

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
1.1 Neutron optics and the analogy with light optics 1
1.2 The quantum phase shift of matter waves 9
1.3 Basic neutron diffraction phenomena 18
2 Neutron interferometers and apparatus 23
2.1 The perfect silicon crystal interferometer 23
2.2 Interferometer setups 32
2.3 Interferometers based upon cold and ultra-cold neutrons 37
2.4 Larmor interferometry 45
3 Neutron interactions and coherent scattering lengths 54
3.1 Nuclear interaction 54
3.2 Electromagnetic interactions 74
3.3 Parity-violating interactions 85
3.4 External influences 86
4 Coherence properties 93
4.1 Basic relations 95
4.2 Coherence measurements 99
4.3 Partial beam path detection 113
4.4 Counting statistics 125
4.5 Post-selection experiments 137
5 Spinor symmetry and spin superposition 165
5.1 Spinor symmetry 165
5.2 Spin superposition 169
5.3 Time-dependent spinor superposition 173
5.4 Double coil experiments and the magnetic Josephson effect 176
5.5 Multi-photon exchange experiments 184
6 Topological and geometric phases 189
6.1 Aharonov-Casher effect (vector Aharonov-Bohm effect) 189
6.2 Scalar Aharonov-Bohm effect 194
6.3 Topological phases 200
7 Gravitational, non-inertial, and motional effects 211
7.1 Gravitationally induced quantum interference 211
7.2 Sagnac effect 229
7.3 Acceleration-induced interference 236
7.4 Connections with photons 237
7.5 Neutron Fizeau effects 238
8 Forthcoming and more speculative experiments 256
8.1 Non-linearity of the Schrodinger equation 256
8.2 Aharonov-Bohm analogue 257
8.3 Quaternions in quantum mechanics 258
8.4 Non-ergodic effects 259
8.5 Wheeler delayed-choice experiments 260
8.6 Neutron-antineutron oscillations 261
8.7 Non-Newtonian gravity effects 262
8.8 Spin-rotation coupling 262
8.9 Hanbury Brown-Twiss analogue 263
8.10 The search for nuclear quantum entanglement 265
8.11 Confinement and gravity quantized phases 265
8.12 The Anandan acceleration 268
8.13 Search for basic dissipative terms 274
8.14 Bell type non-locality experiments 275
9 Solid state physics applications 278
9.1 Contrast reduction due to inhomogeneities 278
9.2 Phase contrast topography and tomography 283
9.3 Neutron Fourier spectroscopy 287
10 Perfect-crystal neutron optics 294
10.1 The transition from kinematic to dynamical diffraction 294
10.2 Dynamical diffraction for the symmetric Laue case 295
10.3 Anomalous transmission, angle amplification, and high collimation effects 304
10.4 Pendellosung interference effects 312
10.5 Primary extinction and the width of a Bragg reflection 316
10.6 The Takagi-Taupin equations 317
10.7 Theory of the perfect crystal neutron interferometer 324
11 Interpretational questions 350
References 366
Index 392
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