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M. Gring, S. Gerlich, S. Eibenberger, S. Nimmrichter, T. Berrada, M. Arndt, H. Ulbricht, K. Hornberger, M. Müri, M. Mayor, M. Böckmann, and N. L. Doltsinis
Influence of conformational molecular dynamics on matter wave interferometry
Phys. Rev. A 81, 031604(R) (2010)


We investigate the influence of thermally activated internal molecular dynamics on the phase shifts of matter waves inside a molecule interferometer. While de Broglie physics generally describes only the center-of-mass motion of a quantum object, our experiment demonstrates that the translational quantum phase is sensitive to dynamic conformational state changes inside the diffracted molecules. The structural flexibility of tailor-made organic particles is sufficient to admit a mixture of strongly fluctuating dipole moments. These modify the electric susceptibility and through this the quantum interference pattern in the presence of an external electric field. Detailed molecular dynamics simulations combined with density-functional theory allow us to quantify the time-dependent structural reconfigurations and to predict the ensemble-averaged square of the dipole moment which is found to be in good agreement with the interferometric result. The experiment thus opens a different perspective on matter wave interferometry, as we demonstrate here that it is possible to collect structural information about molecules even if they are delocalized over more than 100 times their own diameter.

(4 pages, 3 figures)   [pdf, journal, arXiv:1405.4649 ]

doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.81.031604            (c) The American Physical Society