Possibility to Probe Negative Values of a Wigner Function in Scattering of a Coherent Superposition of Electronic Wave Packets by Atoms

Dmitry V. Karlovets, Valeriy G. Serbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Within a plane-wave approximation in scattering, an incoming wave packet's Wigner function stays positive everywhere, which obscures such purely quantum phenomena as nonlocality and entanglement. With the advent of the electron microscopes with subnanometer-sized beams, one can enter a genuinely quantum regime where the latter effects become only moderately attenuated. Here we show how to probe negative values of the Wigner function in scattering of a coherent superposition of two Gaussian packets with a nonvanishing impact parameter between them (a Schrödinger's cat state) by atomic targets. For hydrogen in the ground 1s state, a small parameter of the problem, a ratio a/σ of the Bohr radius a to the beam width σ, is no longer vanishing. We predict an azimuthal asymmetry of the scattered electrons, which is found to be up to 10%, and argue that it can be reliably detected. The production of beams with the not-everywhere-positive Wigner functions and the probing of such quantum effects can open new perspectives for noninvasive electron microscopy, quantum tomography, particle physics, and so forth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173601
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume119
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2017

Keywords

  • QUANTUM
  • GENERATION

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