Quantum Reflection of He2 Several Nanometers Above a Grating Surface

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Science  18 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6019, pp. 892-894
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200911

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Quantum reflection allows an atom or molecule to be reflected from a solid before it reaches the region where it would encounter the repulsive potential of the surface. We observed nondestructive scattering of the helium dimer (He2), which has a binding energy of 10−7 electron volt, from a solid reflection grating. We scattered a beam containing the dimer as well as atomic helium and larger clusters, but could differentiate the dimer by its diffraction angle. Helium dimers are quantum reflected tens of nanometers above the surface, where the surface-induced forces are too weak to dissociate the fragile bond.

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