Macroscopic Quantum Interference from Atomic Tunnel Arrays

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Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1686-1689
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1686

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Interference of atomic de Broglie waves tunneling from a vertical array of macroscopically populated traps has been observed. The traps were located in the antinodes of an optical standing wave and were loaded from a Bose-Einstein condensate. Tunneling was induced by acceleration due to gravity, and interference was observed as a train of falling pulses of atoms. In the limit of weak atomic interactions, the pulse frequency is determined by the gravitational potential energy difference between adjacent potential wells. The effect is closely related to the ac Josephson effect observed in superconducting electronic systems.

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