Coherent Stern-Gerlach momentum splitting on an atom chip

Shimon MacHluf, Yonathan Japha, Ron Folman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


In the Stern-Gerlach effect, a magnetic field gradient splits particles into spatially separated paths according to their spin projection. The idea of exploiting this effect for creating coherent momentum superpositions for matter-wave interferometry appeared shortly after its discovery, almost a century ago, but was judged to be far beyond practical reach. Here we demonstrate a viable version of this idea. Our scheme uses pulsed magnetic field gradients, generated by currents in an atom chip wire, and radio-frequency Rabi transitions between Zeeman sublevels. We transform an atomic Bose-Einstein condensate into a superposition of spatially separated propagating wavepackets and observe spatial interference fringes with a measurable phase repeatability. The method is versatile in its range of momentum transfer and the different available splitting geometries. These features make our method a good candidate for supporting a variety of future applications and fundamental studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2424
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 9 Sep 2013


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