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Nature. 1999 Oct 14;401(6754):680-2.

Wave-particle duality of C(60) molecules.


Quantum superposition lies at the heart of quantum mechanics and gives rise to many of its paradoxes. Superposition of de Broglie matter waves' has been observed for massive particles such as electrons, atoms and dimers, small van der Waals clusters, and neutrons. But matter wave interferometry with larger objects has remained experimentally challenging, despite the development of powerful atom interferometric techniques for experiments in fundamental quantum mechanics, metrology and lithography. Here we report the observation of de Broglie wave interference of C(60) molecules by diffraction at a material absorption grating. This molecule is the most massive and complex object in which wave behaviour has been observed. Of particular interest is the fact that C(60) is almost a classical body, because of its many excited internal degrees of freedom and their possible couplings to the environment. Such couplings are essential for the appearance of decoherence, suggesting that interference experiments with large molecules should facilitate detailed studies of this process.


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