Test of quantum mechanics by neutron interferometry
Atominstitut der Österreichischen Universitäten, 1020 Wien, Austria
Interferometry with massive elementary particles combines particle and wave features in a direct way. In this respect, neutrons are proper tools for testing quantum mechanics because they are massive, they couple to electromagnetic fields due to their magnetic moment, and they are subject to all basic interactions, and they are sensitive to topological effects, as well. They play a pionieering role in the development of interferometry with even heavier objects, like atoms, molecules and clusters. Deterministic and stochastic partial absorption experiments can be described by Bell-type inequalities. Recent neutron interferometry experiments based on postselection methods renewed the discussion about quantum nonlocality and the quantum measuring process. It has been shown that interference phenomena can be revived even when the overall interference pattern has lost its contrast. This indicates persisting coupling in phase space even in cases of spatially separated Schrödinger cat-like situations. These states are extremely fragile and sensitive to any kind of fluctuations or other decoherence processes. More complete quantum experiments also show that a complete retrieval of quantum states behind an interaction region becomes impossible in principle. The transition from a quantum world to a classical one is still an open question and will be tackled by means of dedicated decoherence experiments. Recent measurements deal with quantum contextuality and quantum state reconstruction. The observed results agree with quantum mechanical laws and may stimulate further discussions about their interpretations.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2008