Comparison of the Hanbury Brown-Twiss effect for bosons and fermions

T. Jeltes, J.M. McNamara, W. Hogervorst, W. Vassen, V. Krachmalnicoff, M. Schellekens, A. Perrin, H. Chang, D. Boiron, A. Aspect, C.I. Westbrook

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Fifty years ago, Hanbury Brown and Twiss (HBT) discovered photon bunching in light emitted by a chaotic source, highlighting the importance of two-photon correlations and stimulating the development of modern quantum optics. The quantum interpretation of bunching relies on the constructive interference between amplitudes involving two indistinguishable photons, and its additive character is intimately linked to the Bose nature of photons. Advances in atom cooling and detection have led to the observation and full characterization of the atomic analogue of the HBT effect with bosonic atoms. By contrast, fermions should reveal an antibunching effect (a tendency to avoid each other). Antibunching of fermions is associated with destructive two-particle interference, and is related to the Pauli principle forbidding more than one identical fermion to occupy the same quantum state. Here we report an experimental comparison of the fermionic and bosonic HBT effects in the same apparatus, using two different isotopes of helium:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-405
Issue number7126
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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