Van der Waals-Zeeman Colloquium

Thursday, 12 May 2009, 16:00h

Matter waves with clusters and molecules: from foundations of quantum physics to applications in physical chemistry

Prof. Markus Arndt
Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, Austria

The de Broglie wave nature of matter has been a corner stone of physics since the beginnings of quantum mechanics. But only recently matter wave interferometry could be extended beyond the range of electrons, neutrons or atoms. Molecular quantum optics is nowadays operating with particles that are composed of more than one hundred atoms, and that still show quantum interference in the center of mass states even when heated to temperatures in the range of 1000 K. In contrast to simpler particles used in earlier experiments, molecules possess a rich internal structure. They exhibit many rapid state changes in free flight, develop fluctuating internal structures and thus offer various handles for decoherence investigations. The high sensitivity of quantum interference fringes to external perturbations allows us also to implement a new kind of molecule metrology and to deduce characteristic molecular properties with high sensitivity. We shall discuss the machinery that is required for extending such experiments to particles up to and beyond the mass range of 1.000.000 amu: this includes beam sources, detectors, cooling and coherent manipulation schemes which all have to be adapted to a plethora of different properties for different molecules.