Université Paul Sabatier - Bat. 3R1b4 - 118 route de Narbonne 31062 Toulouse Cedex 09, France

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The three-grating Mach-Zehnder optical interferometer : a tutorial approach using particle optics

In this paper, we present a tutorial set-up based on an optical three-grating Mach–Zehnder interferometer. As this apparatus is very similar in its principle to the Mach–Zehnder interferometers used with matter waves (neutrons, atoms and molecules), it can be used to familiarize students with particle optics, and in our explanations, we use the complementary points of view of wave optics and particle optics. Finally, we have used this interferometer to measure the index of refraction of BK7 glass for red light at 633 nm, with a technique equivalent to the one used to measure the index of refraction of solid matter for thermal neutrons. The dimensions of this interferometer and its cost make it very interesting for laboratory courses and the experiment described here can be reproduced by students.


Voir en ligne : Eur. J. Phys. 23, 623-635 (2002)