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L. Hackermüller, K. Hornberger, B. Brezger, A. Zeilinger, and M. Arndt
Decoherence in a Talbot-Lau interferometer: the influence of molecular scattering,
Appl. Phys. B 77, 781-787 (2003)


We study the interference of C70 fullerenes in a Talbot-Lau interferometer with a large separation between the diffraction gratings. This permits the observation of recurrences of the interference contrast both as a function of the de Broglie wavelength and in dependence of the interaction with background gases. We observe an exponential decrease of the fringe visibility with increasing background pressure and find good quantitative agreement with the predictions of decoherence theory. From this we extrapolate the limits of matter wave interferometry and conclude that the influence of collisional decoherence may be well under control in future experiments with proteins and even larger objects.

(7 pages, 5 figures)   [pdf, journal]                  (c) Springer-Verlag