Chemistry

Waves of NO

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Science  21 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6173, pp. 818
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6173.818-b

Diffraction is perhaps the best evidence that light acts as a wave. The peaks and valleys in overlapping beams can either reinforce or suppress each other, leading to visible intensity oscillations on a detection screen. Quantum mechanics dictates that atoms manifest this type of behavior also, although the experimental conditions necessary to observe it can be as challenging to achieve as the mental agility needed to reconcile it with human-scale experience. von Zastrow et al. have detected remarkably clear interference fringes in the distribution of nitric oxide (NO) scattering angles from inelastic collisions with noble gas atoms. Close agreement between the experimental results and quantum-mechanical calculations confirmed a type of matter diffraction as the underlying cause of the striking oscillatory pattern in the angular distribution.

Nat. Chem. 10.1038/nchem.1860 (2014).

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