The Orbital Angular Momentum of Neutrons and the Operation of the Neutron Interferometer

Published: March 02, 2018


Ronald L. Cappelletti, Terrence J. Jach, John T. Vinson, Samuel A. Werner


A recent neutron interferometry experiment attempted to observe the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of neutron de Broglie waves of neutron de Broglie waves using a spiral phase (SPP) (Nature 525, 504 (2015) [1]). Based upon conventional neutron optical ideas, we provide an alternative explanation of the two-dimensional interference patterns observed. Since the transverse coherence length of the neutrons in the NIST interferometer is a very small fraction of the transverse dimension of the SPP used, we show that neutron wave packets passing through the SPP acquire a vanishingly small intrinsic OAM. Given the small transverse coherence of the incident neutrons, we show that the LLL perfect silicon crystal neutron interferometer actually consists of a very large number of independent, incoherently superposed interferometers. Simple phase contrast explains the observed interference patterns.
Citation: Physical Review Letters
Volume: 120
Pub Type: Journals

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neutron, orbital angular momentum, interferometer
Created March 02, 2018, Updated March 26, 2018