Faculty Sponsor: Dr. John Yukich
A key principle of quantum mechanics is the phenomenon of indistinguishability, or the inability to determine which way a particle travels given two equivalent paths. Rather than make the deterministic assumption that particle chose path ‘A’ or path ‘B’, we say that the particle exists in a superposition of quantum states during its travel. This experiment utilizes indistinguishability to show that a particle may interfere with itself, thus representing a superposition of states. We show that when paths of a interferometer are made identical, interference fringes can be resolved. Conversely, when interferometer paths are distinguishable, we show that interference does not occur, and photon detection assumes a classical distribution. This experiment offers a valuable investigation of the principles of quantum theory via experimental confirmation of quantum superposition and interference.