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Electron matter optics of the Aharonov-Bohm and Stern-Gerlach effects

Scot Cameron McGregor, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Since the advent of quantum mechanics and the idea that massive particles exhibit wave properties, physicists have made efforts to make use of the short deBroglie wave length of matter waves for fundamental as well as practical studies. Among these are the precise measurements allowed by interference, diffraction, and microscopy as well as the study of more fundamental aspects of quantum theory such as the Aharonov-Bohm effects or the Stern-Gerlach effect, which are described below. However, in order to use matter waves to observe any of these effects it is necessary to produce and maintain coherence in the waves which are used for measurement. With a grasp of what coherence is and how it may be achieved and maintained one can move forward to study the interesting phenomena associated with coherent matter waves. More specifically in this work the interference and diffraction of electron matter waves are considered. The phenomena under consideration are those associated with the interaction of the electric charge and magnetic dipole moment of the electron with external fields and potentials while in the process of interfering or diffracting. Namely the focus of this dissertation is the Aharonov-Bohm effect, the Aharonov-Casher effect, and the Stern-Gerlach effect. Additionally, a wide-angle electron beam-splitter capable of producing two centimeter beam separation at the detection plane is discussed. The beam-splitter utilizes a nanofabricated periodic grating in combination with a bi-prism element. Contrary to devices utilizing only bi-prism elements, the use of the periodic grating causes amplitude, and not wave front, splitting. Even at maximum separation, beam profiles remain undistorted, providing evidence that coherence is intact. This is a step towards the realization of a large area electron interferometer using such a grating bi-prism combination. Such an interferometer could, in principle, be used to test the dispersionless nature of the Aharonov-Bohm effect. Work towards such an interferometer and possible future work are also discussed.

Subject Area

Quantum physics

Recommended Citation

McGregor, Scot Cameron, "Electron matter optics of the Aharonov-Bohm and Stern-Gerlach effects" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3590323.