Research NewsAtomic Physics

Atoms Take a Turn for the Better

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Science  14 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5302, pp. 931
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5302.931

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Every time a jetliner maneuvers, patterns of light and shadow in a device called an interferometer measure the change in angle. Now, photons have a rival for sensing small rotations: interfering atoms. With an atom interferometer, which takes advantage of the wavelike nature of matter described by quantum mechanics, physicists have measured rotations as subtle as a quarter of a degree per hour.