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Particles and Fields

EPJ D - Electrons go unperturbed in a matter-wave interferometer

Photodetachment microscopy provides the best electron affinity measurements on atoms and molecules. Photodetachment of a negative ion produces a nearly free electron, hardly perturbed by the residual atomic core. Applying an external electric field does not only concentrate the photoelectron current in a round spot, but also gives rise to an electron interference pattern, due to the existence of a pair of possible trajectories bound to every point of the spot. This very fundamental matter-wave interferometer produces extraordinarily robust interferograms. Although magnetic fields, even in the sub-microT range, causes fluxes between the interfering trajectories that can be huge compared to the quantum unit of magnetic flux, a magnetic perturbation of the system appears to only produce a global deviation of the spot, without any modification of the interference pattern. The main result of the recent paper published in EPJ D by Chaibi et al. is that even in higher magnetic fields (typically 100 microT) the electron interference phase, or number of interference rings, remain unperturbed. This comfirms photodetachment as a highly accurate method for electron spectrometry and electron affinity measurements.

To read the full paper ‘Effect of a magnetic field in photodetachment microscopy’ by W. Chaibi et al., Eur. Phys. J. D (2010) click here

G. Dissertori, J. Monroe, K. Skenderis and D. Zeppenfeld

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