Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2012 Mar 25;7(5):297-300.
doi: 10.1038/nnano.2012.34.

Real-time Single-Molecule Imaging of Quantum Interference


Real-time Single-Molecule Imaging of Quantum Interference

Thomas Juffmann et al. Nat Nanotechnol. .

Erratum in

  • Nat Nanotechnol. 2012 Aug;7(8):544


The observation of interference patterns in double-slit experiments with massive particles is generally regarded as the ultimate demonstration of the quantum nature of these objects. Such matter-wave interference has been observed for electrons, neutrons, atoms and molecules and, in contrast to classical physics, quantum interference can be observed when single particles arrive at the detector one by one. The build-up of such patterns in experiments with electrons has been described as the "most beautiful experiment in physics". Here, we show how a combination of nanofabrication and nano-imaging allows us to record the full two-dimensional build-up of quantum interference patterns in real time for phthalocyanine molecules and for derivatives of phthalocyanine molecules, which have masses of 514 AMU and 1,298 AMU respectively. A laser-controlled micro-evaporation source was used to produce a beam of molecules with the required intensity and coherence, and the gratings were machined in 10-nm-thick silicon nitride membranes to reduce the effect of van der Waals forces. Wide-field fluorescence microscopy detected the position of each molecule with an accuracy of 10 nm and revealed the build-up of a deterministic ensemble interference pattern from single molecules that arrived stochastically at the detector. In addition to providing this particularly clear demonstration of wave-particle duality, our approach could also be used to study larger molecules and explore the boundary between quantum and classical physics.

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 10 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Dec 31;103(26):263601 - PubMed
    1. Phys Rev Lett. 1988 Oct 3;61(14):1580-1583 - PubMed
    1. Phys Rev Lett. 2002 Dec 16;89(25):253001 - PubMed
    1. Chem Commun (Camb). 2009 Apr 21;(15):1970-1 - PubMed
    1. Nature. 1999 Oct 14;401(6754):680-2 - PubMed

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources