Quantum Reflection of a Neutral Atom from Solid Surface

Fujio Shimizu

University of Electro-Communications
Institute for Laser Science
Chofu-shi, 182-8585, Tokyo, Japan

Quantum reflection is reflection of a matter wave that occurs when the wave encounters a steep potential slope. This reflection is equivalent to the reflection of a light wave at a boundary of refractive index, and the reflectivity is same regardless of the propagation direction of the matter wave. We report in this talk the first quantitative measurement of quantum reflection of an atomic wave by attractive potential near the solid surface. By changing the normal incident velocity from a few mm/s to
several tens cm/s the reflectivity varies from several 10-1 to less than 10-3. Simultaneously, the distance from the surface to the reflecting plane varies form micron meters to several tens nm, where the dominant interaction is van der Waals and Casimir potentials. We will also discuss a method to increase reflection and its technical applications.