The most beautiful experiment in physics...that never was! (until now) Young double-slit interference with single electrons
Dr Raul BARRACHINA - Directeur de l'Inst
Mercredi 20/09/2006, 15h00
Bât. C5 P.421A, CEA-Grenoble
Young's two-slit demonstration applied to single electrons was recently voted as the most beautiful experiment in Physics [R. P. Crease: "The most beautiful experiment", Physics World, pp 19-20 (September 2002)]. This demonstration was proposed in 1963 by Feynman in his famous Lectures, but paradoxically not as a "real" but as a "thought" experiment. In fact, he warns the reader not to try it since ``the apparatus would have to be made on an impossibly small scale to show the effects we are interested in''. In spite of this authoritative warning, we recently proposed an atomic version of this thought experiment, in which a single electron source and a two-center scatterer are prepared in each collision event. In this communication we describe this proposal and an experimental implementation recently achieved by the group of F. Fremont in Caen, France. Finally, we show how other versions of Young's famous demonstration can be carried out with electrons in ionization and autoionization collisions.