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Laser Light Diffracts Electrons

Photonics Spectra
Oct 2001
A research team at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln has confirmed the existence of the Kapitza-Dirac effect, the diffraction of particles by a standing wave of light predicted by Peter L. Kapitza and Paul A.M. Dirac in 1933. The team suggests that the effect may lead to the development of more accurate Mach-Zehnder interferometers for the study of phenomena such as forward electron-atom scattering phase shifts.

In the Sept. 13 issue of Nature, the researchers reported on how they used a pulsed Nd:YAG laser and a 380-eV electron beam to create a diffraction pattern on an electron multiplier. The 10-ns pulses of 532-nm light formed a grating through which the collimated electron beam passed.

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