Diffraction of atomic matter waves through 2D membranes
Diffraction phenomena are of fundamental importance for the characterization and analysis of materials in industrial and scientific applications. Prominent examples include X-ray crystallography as well as the diffraction of neutrons and electrons. The goal of the current project is to open a new field of research by realizing the first diffraction experiments of atomic matter waves through crystalline 2D membranes like graphene. Such experiments have been successfully conducted only with subatomic particles so far.
During the transmission through the membrane the matter wave literally touches the atoms of the grating, leading to pronounced couplings to the electrons and the nuclei in the material. The resulting information is highly relevant for the precise manipulation of atomically thin membranes. The key advantage of our nondestructive method is that these interactions can be directly extracted from the diffraction pattern.
The miniscule grating period of graphene on the picometer scale furthermore leads to unprecedentedly large diffraction angles of 50 mrad and more, and thus can act as a basis for numerous scientific and technological approaches in the area of force sensing and interferometry.