Matter Wave Collapses and Revives
While a Bose-Einstein condensate may represent the most classical form of a matter wave, the wave field has a quantized structure that is related to the granularity of the discrete underlying atoms. It isn't necessarily stable when the condensate is in a coherent super- position of different atom number states. When scientists at Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich and Max Planck Institut für Quantenoptik in Garching, both in Germany, investigated how the individual matter waves and their relative phases evolve, they observed that such a wave undergoes a periodic series of collapses and revivals.
The researchers, who reported the work in the Sept. 5 issue of Nature, believe that the dynamic evolution of the multiple-matter-wave interference pattern is a direct demonstration of this behavior. They attribute the oscillations to the quantized structure of the matter wave field and the collisions between individual atoms.
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