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Measurement-induced decoherence and information in double-slit interference



Joshua Kincaid, Kyle McLelland, Michael P. Zwolak


The double slit experiment provides the classic example of both interference and the effect of observation in quantum physics. When particles are sent individually through a pair of slits, a wave-like interference pattern develops; no such interference is found when one observes which "path" the particles take. We present a model of interference, dephasing, and measurement-induced decoherence in a one-dimensional version of the double-slit experiment. Using this model, we demonstrate how the loss of interference in the system is correlated with the information gain by the measuring apparatus/observer. In doing so, we give a modern account of measurement in this paradigmatic example of quantum physics that is accessible to students taking quantum mechanics at the graduate or senior undergraduate levels.
American Journal of Physics


Measurement-induced decoherence, Interference, Quantum Information


Kincaid, J. , McLelland, K. and Zwolak, M. (2016), Measurement-induced decoherence and information in double-slit interference, American Journal of Physics, [online],, (Accessed May 20, 2024)


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Created July 19, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021