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Sci Adv. 2019 Oct 4;5(10):eaax8966. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax8966. eCollection 2019 Oct.

Interference of clocks: A quantum twin paradox.

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Institut für Quantenoptik, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Welfengarten 1, D-30167 Hannover, Germany.
Institut für Quantenphysik and Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology (IQ), Universität Ulm, Albert-Einstein-Allee 11, D-89069 Ulm, Germany.
Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia.
Hagler Institute for Advanced Study and Department of Physics and Astronomy, Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering (IQSE), Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4242, USA.
Institute of Quantum Technologies, German Aerospace Center (DLR), D-89069 Ulm, Germany.


The phase of matter waves depends on proper time and is therefore susceptible to special-relativistic (kinematic) and gravitational (redshift) time dilation. Hence, it is conceivable that atom interferometers measure general-relativistic time-dilation effects. In contrast to this intuition, we show that (i) closed light-pulse interferometers without clock transitions during the pulse sequence are not sensitive to gravitational time dilation in a linear potential. (ii) They can constitute a quantum version of the special-relativistic twin paradox. (iii) Our proposed experimental geometry for a quantum-clock interferometer isolates this effect.

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