Einstein-Bohr recoiling double-slit gedanken experiment performed at the molecular level

Xiao Jing Liu, Quan Miao, Faris Gel'Mukhanov, Minna Patanen, Oksana Travnikova, Christophe Nicolas, Hans Ågren, Kiyoshi Ueda, Catalin Miron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Double-slit experiments illustrate the quintessential proof for wave-particle complementarity. If information is missing about which slit the particle has traversed, the particle, behaving as a wave, passes simultaneously through both slits. This wave-like behaviour and corresponding interference is absent if â €' which-slitâ €™ information exists. The essence of Einstein-Bohr's debate about wave-particle duality was whether the momentum transfer between a particle and a recoiling slit could mark the path, thus destroying the interference. To measure the recoil of a slit, the slits should move independently. We showcase a materialization of this recoiling double-slit gedanken experiment by resonant X-ray photoemission from molecular oxygen for geometries near equilibrium (coupled slits) and in a dissociative state far away from equilibrium (decoupled slits). Interference is observed in the former case, while the electron momentum transfer quenches the interference in the latter case owing to Doppler labelling of the counter-propagating atomic slits, in full agreement with Bohr's complementarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-125
Number of pages6
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Feb 17

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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