Diffraction in time

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Diffraction in time is a phenomenon associated with the quantum dynamics of suddenly released matter waves initially confined in a region of space. It was introduced in 1952 by Marcos Moshinsky with the shutter problem

[1] A matter-wave beam stopped by an absorbing shutter exhibits an oscillatory density profile during its propagation after removal of the shutter. Whenever this propagation is accurately described by the time-dependent Schrödinger equation, the transient wave functions resemble the solutions that appear for the intensity of light subject to Fresnel diffraction by a straight edge. For this reason, the transient phenomenon was dubbed diffraction in time and has since then been recognised as ubiquitous in quantum dynamics.

[2] [3] The experimental confirmation of this phenomenon was only achieved about half a century later in the group[clarification needed] of ultracold atoms directed by Jean Dalibard.[4]


  1. ^ Moshinsky, M. (1952). "Diffraction in time". Physical Review. 88: 625. Bibcode:1952PhRv...88..625M. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.88.625. 
  2. ^ Kleber, M. (1994). "Exact solutions for time-dependent phenomena in quantum mechanics". Physics Reports. 236: 331–393. Bibcode:1994PhR...236..331K. doi:10.1016/0370-1573(94)90029-9. 
  3. ^ del Campo, A.; García-Calderón, G.; Muga, J. G. (2009). "Quantum transients". Physics Reports. 476: 1–50. arXiv:0812.3034Freely accessible. Bibcode:2009PhR...476....1D. doi:10.1016/j.physrep.2009.03.002. 
  4. ^ Szriftgiser, A.; Guéry-Odelin, D.; Arndt, M.; Dalibard, J. (1996). "Atomic Wave Diffraction and Interference Using Temporal Slits". Physical Review Letters. 77: 4–7. Bibcode:1996PhRvL..77....4S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.77.4. PMID 10061757.