Refracting Electrons

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Science  13 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5660, pp. 927
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5660.927a

Scanning probe microscopy studies have directly revealed the wavelike properties of electrons on surfaces. “Electron waves” have been seen to scatter off impurities, to produce standing waves in confining potentials and even to produce the equivalent of an optical illusion in terms of a mirage when the electrons are confined to an elliptical coral. Carrying over the optical analogy, Repp et al. demonstrate the refraction of surface electron waves as they pass from one medium (NaCl) to another (Cu). The angles of the propagating electrons on either side of the interface are seen to obey Snell's law, thus taking observations made in the classical world down to the level of the quantum world. The results may also suggest a route to engineer the properties of surface electrons. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 023003 (2004).

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