Are quantum wave packets observable? Sokolov effect: puzzling generation of 2p states in the 2s hydrogen beam passing trough a wide metal slit
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The observation of excitation of 2p states in a collimated 2s hydrogen beam passing through a wide metal slit with no direct contacts or electric field applied (Sokolov effect) up to now has had no reasonable explanation. A solution presented in this paper is formulated within the standard quantum-mechanical framework with a consecutive wave packet treatment of the atomic center-of-mass wave function. It is found that a very weak interaction of the beam diffraction halo with the slit, though negligible for center-of-mass motion, coherently affects the intrinsic state of an atom in the beam and efficiently induces \(2s\rightarrow 2p\) transitions. High sensitivity of this interference phenomena may be used to measure transverse coherence length of the beam.
KeywordsWave Packet Coherence Length Beam Diffraction Intrinsic State Interference Phenomenon
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