An NMR experiment on the full quantum version of the complementarity principle

One of the milestones of quantum mechanics is Bohr's complementarity principle. It states that a single quantum can exhibit a particlelike or a wavelike behavior, but never both at the same time. These are mutually exclusive and complementary aspects of the quantum system. This means that we need distinct experimental arrangements in order to measure the particle or the wave nature of a physical system. One of the most known representations of this principle is the single-photon Mach-Zehnder interferometer. When the interferometer is closed an interference pattern is observed (wave aspect of the quantum) while if it is open, the quantum behaves like a particle. Using a molecular quantum information processor and employing nuclear magnetic resonant (NMR) techniques, we analyze the quantum version of this principle by means of an interferometer that is in a quantum superposition of being closed and open, and confirm that we can indeed measure both aspects of the system with the same experimental apparatus. More specifically, we observe with a single apparatus the interference between the particle and the wave aspects of a quantum system.

For more information: Phys. Rev. A 85, 032121 (2012) See a discussion on loopholes and non-locality in: J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 46, 245301 (2013) See also a News & Views in Nature Photonics (Vol. 6, Sept 2012) - this includes a discussion about recent experiments on the Quantum Delayed Choice

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