In something akin to a double-slit experiment, scientists at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, in co-operation with researchers from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, have shown for the first time that electrons have characteristics of both waves and particles at the same time and in virtually the push of a button can be switched back and forth between these states. The researchers provided evidence that disrupting the reflective symmetry of these molecules by introducing two different heavy isotopes, in this case N14 and N15, leads to a partial loss of coherence. The electrons partially begin to localise on one of the two, now distinguishable, atoms. The results could have implications for the building and control of "artificial molecules", which are made of semiconductor quantum dots, and are a possible component of quantum computers. (Nature, September 29, 2005).
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