Neutron Interferometry

The quantum interference of DeBroglie matter waves is probably one of the most startling and fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics. It continues to tax our imaginations and leads us to new experimental windows on nature. Quantum interference phenomena are vividly displayed in the wide assembly of neutron interferometry experiments, which have been carried out since the first demonstration of a perfect silicon crystal interferometer in 1974. Since the neutron experiences all four fundamental forces of nature (strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational), interferometry with neutrons provides a fertile testing ground for theory and precision measurements. Many Gedanken experiments of quantum mechanics have become real due to neutron interferometry. This book provides the reader with a detailed account of neutron interferometry experiments. The basic ideas and experiments related to coherence properties of matter waves and various post-selection criteria, gravitationally induced phase shifts, Berry’s geometrical phase, spinor symmetry and spin superposition, Aharonov-Bohm topological interference effects, and the neutron version of the Sagnac effect are presented in a self-contained and pedagogical way. Interferometry with perfect crystals, artificial lattices, and spin-echo systems are topics of this book. It includes the theoretical motivations as well as connections to other areas of experimental physics, such as quantum optics, nuclear physics, gravitation, and atom interferometry. The book is written in a style that will be suitable at the beginning graduate level, and will excite many students and researchers in neutron physics, quantum optics, and atomic physics. Lecturers teaching courses in modern physics and quantum mechanics will find a number of interesting and historic experiments they may want to include in their lectures.

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