Double-Slit Experiment Explores Solids

A research team used resonant inelastic X-ray scattering to implement a new variant of the basic double-slit experiment, providing a more in-depth understanding of solid electronic structure. The researchers used resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS) to investigate an iridium oxide crystal (Ba3CeIr2O9).

Strongly collimated, high-energy X-ray photons irradiate the crystal. In Young’s classic experiment, Iridium atoms in the crystal scatter the X-rays that act as slits. The physicists could now observe the scattering on two adjacent iridium atoms, a so-called dimer, thanks to the rapid technological development of RIXS and a deft choice of crystal structure.

In contrast to the classical double-slit experiment, inelastically scattered X-ray photons provide information about the excited states of the dimer, specifically their symmetry, and thus about the solid’s dynamic physical properties.

These RIXS double-slit experiment studies necessitate using a modern synchrotron as an incredibly bright X-ray light source and a sophisticated experimental setup. To specifically excite iridium atoms, scientists must select a tiny proportion of photons with the appropriate energy from the synchrotron’s broad spectrum, and scattered photons are selected even more strictly based on energy and scattering direction. There are only a few photons left. The research opens the door to a slew of new experiments that will allow the researchers to study the properties and functions of solids.

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