One of the most fundamental principles of quantum physics, the so-called wave-particle dualism of quantum objects, is at the heart of a recently developed research field: twisted matter waves. Similar to their well-established photonic counterparts, coherent beams of massive particles can exhibit a screw-like phase front, which causes an orbital angular momentum. Contrary to photons, however, massive quantum systems can be charged, which results in an additional magnetic moment related to the beams’ twist. So far, this unique feature has only been studied using electrons, with immediate impact on fundamental studies and applications in quantum-enhanced microscopy schemes as a magnetic nano-sensor.
TWISTION will harness these latest developments but redirects the focus on coherent matter waves of ions. Not only are ionic systems heavier than electrons, importantly they have an internal structure due to bound electrons. This feature, exclusive to composite systems, makes twisted ions especially intriguing as it opens the door to yet unexplored quantum mechanical effects on the internal states, e.g. through a magnetic interaction caused by the magnetic moment induced by the external twist.
With these promising prospects in mind, TWISTION will set out to demonstrate the first twisted ion beam, thereby also delivering the first unambiguous result of a coherent ionic matter wave. More importantly, TWISTION intends to explore and reveal in theory as well as in an experiment the effect of an external twist on the internal structure, thereby establishing twisted ions as a novel tool for quantum science. In turn, TWISTION will deliver the first experiment that is exclusively built for the investigation of structured matter waves, whose setup can be fully adjusted to any task-specific requirement for both, electrons and ions. As such, TWISTION aims at redefining the state-of-the-art of this novel branch of quantum science at the interface between optics and atom physics.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme