Abstracts for May-June 2016

Lots of matter interference experiments this time, because they are awesome.

  • Quantum Interference of a Microsphere
    H. Pino, J. Prat-Camps, K. Sinha, B. P. Venkatesh, and O. Romero-Isart
    We propose and analyze an all-magnetic scheme to perform a Young’s double slit experiment with a micron-sized superconducting sphere of mass 10^{13} amu. We show that its center of mass could be prepared in a spatial quantum superposition state with an extent of the order of half a micrometer. The scheme is based on magnetically levitating the sphere above a superconducting chip and letting it skate through a static magnetic potential landscape where it interacts for short intervals with quantum circuits. In this way a protocol for fast quantum interferometry is passively implemented. Such a table-top earth-based quantum experiment would operate in a parameter regime where gravitational energy scales become relevant. In particular we show that the faint parameter-free gravitationally-induced decoherence collapse model, proposed by Diósi and Penrose, could be unambiguously falsified.

    An extremely exciting and ambitious proposal. I have no ability to assess the technical feasibility, and my prior is that this is too hard, but the authors are solid. Their formalism and thinking is very clean, and hence quite abstracted away from the nitty gritty of the experiment.

  • Do the laws of quantum physics still hold for macroscopic objects -- this is at the heart of Schrodinger's cat paradox -- or do gravitation or yet unknown effects set a limit for massive particles? What is the fundamental relation between quantum physics and gravity? Ground-based experiments addressing these questions may soon face limitations due to limited free-fall times and the quality of vacuum and microgravity. The proposed mission MAQRO may overcome these limitations and allow addressing those fundamental questions. MAQRO harnesses recent developments in quantum optomechanics, high-mass matter-wave interferometry as well as state-of-the-art space technology to push macroscopic quantum experiments towards their ultimate performance limits and to open new horizons for applying quantum technology in space. The main scientific goal of MAQRO is to probe the vastly unexplored ''quantum-classical'' transition for increasingly massive objects, testing the predictions of quantum theory for truly macroscopic objects in a size and mass regime unachievable in ground-based experiments. The hardware for the mission will largely be based on available space technology. Here, we present the MAQRO proposal submitted in response to the (M4) Cosmic Vision call of the European Space Agency for a medium-size mission opportunity with a possible launch in 2025.

    This is the other proposal for a super-large quantum superposition.

  • Matter-wave interferometry has become an essential tool in studies on the foundations of quantum physics and for precision measurements. Mechanical gratings have played an important role as coherent beamsplitters for atoms, molecules and clusters, because the basic diffraction mechanism is the same for all particles. However, polarizable objects may experience van der Waals shifts when they pass the grating walls, and the undesired dephasing may prevent interferometry with massive objects. Here, we explore how to minimize this perturbation by reducing the thickness of the diffraction mask to its ultimate physical limit, that is, the thickness of a single atom. We have fabricated diffraction masks in single-layer and bilayer graphene as well as in a 1 nm thin carbonaceous biphenyl membrane. We identify conditions to transform an array of single-layer graphene nanoribbons into a grating of carbon nanoscrolls. We show that all these ultrathin nanomasks can be used for high-contrast quantum diffraction of massive molecules. They can be seen as a nanomechanical answer to the question debated by Bohr and Einstein of whether a softly suspended double slit would destroy quantum interference. In agreement with Bohr's reasoning we show that quantum coherence prevails, even in the limit of atomically thin gratings.


  • The theory of classical electrodynamics with classical electromagnetic zero-point radiation is outlined here under the title random electrodynamics. The work represents a reanalysis of the bounds of validity of classical electron theory which should sharpen the understanding of the connections and dinstinctions between classical and quantum theories. The new theory of random electrodynamics is a classical electron theory involving Newton's equations for particle motion due to the Lorentz force, and Maxwell's equations for the electromagnetic fields with point particles as sources. However, the theory departs from the classical electron theory of Lorentz in that it adopts a new boundary condition on Maxwell's equations. It is assumed that the homogeneous boundary condition involves random classical electromagnetic radiation with a Lorentz-invariant spectrum, classical electromagnetic zero-point radiation. The scale of the spectrum of random radiation is set by Planck's constant ℏ. In the limit ℏ→0, the theory of random electrodynamics becomes Lorentz's theory of electrons. Thus, random electrodynamics stands between two well-known theories—traditional classical electron theory with ℏ=0 on the one hand and quantum electrodynamics with its noncommuting operators on the other. The paper discusses the role of boundary conditions in classical electrodynamics, the motivation for choosing a new boundary condition involving classical zero-point radiation, and the assumed random character of the radiation. Also, the implications of the theory of random electrodynamics are summarized, including the detection of zero-point radiation, the calculation of van der Waals forces, and the change of ideas in statistical thermodynamics. In these cases the summary accounts refer to published calculations which yield results in agreement with experiment. The implications of random electrodynamics for atomic structure, atomic spectra, and particle-interference effects are discussed on an order-of-magnitude or heuristic level. Some detailed mathematical connections and some merely heuristic connections are noted between random electrodynamics and quantum theory.

    Classical E&M with traditional boundary conditions is not the closest classical approximation to QED. Much better is classical E&M with boundary conditions corresponding to \hbar-size randomly fluctuating coming radiation. Timothy Boyer shows that this appears to recover all sorts of phenomena that are claimedJust more evidence that the canonical way of teaching quantum mechanics is 80% lies…a   to be distinctly quantum, such as the Casimir effect, the stability of the Bohr-radius atom, and (I think?) Bell experiments with unclosed detection loopholes.

    (H/t Godfrey Miller.)


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  1. Just more evidence that the canonical way of teaching quantum mechanics is 80% lies…
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