Research ArticlePHYSICS

Interference of clocks: A quantum twin paradox

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Science Advances  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaax8966
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax8966


The phase of matter waves depends on proper time and is therefore susceptible to special-relativistic (kinematic) and gravitational (redshift) time dilation. Hence, it is conceivable that atom interferometers measure general-relativistic time-dilation effects. In contrast to this intuition, we show that (i) closed light-pulse interferometers without clock transitions during the pulse sequence are not sensitive to gravitational time dilation in a linear potential. (ii) They can constitute a quantum version of the special-relativistic twin paradox. (iii) Our proposed experimental geometry for a quantum-clock interferometer isolates this effect.

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