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Previous Programs

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Hendrik Ulbricht
University of Southampton

Project Title

Testing quantum theory by de Broglie interference of polystyrene spheres and viruses

Project Summary

The ultimate goal of this FQXi research project is to experimentally test the macroscopic limits of quantum physics and the role of gravity as a decohering element to serve solid ground for further investigations of the foundations of modern physics. Such tests are basing on the experimental proof of the wave- like behaviour of massive particles by demonstrating quantum mechanical superposition - the most striking feature of quantum physics, the existence of states of particles being here and there at the same time. We aim to increase the actual mass limit of particles showing quantum behaviour in matter-wave interferometry by three orders of magnitude (to a mass equivalent to 106 hydrogen atoms). Until now the most massive particle, which showed interference, is an organic molecule of the mass of 3000 hydrogen atoms. Quantum mechanics still works for such molecules. Therefore still an open question is how massive a particle can be and still be described by Schroedinger's wave function within the framework of quantum mechanics. According to quantum mechanics no limits exist as 'only' Decoherence prevents us from macroscopic quantumness. Alternative theories which extend and modify the Schroedinger equation have been developed since the birth of quantum mechanics itself and are still debated.

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