Research on matter waves is a thriving field of quantum physics and has recently stimulated many investigations with electrons1, neutrons2, atoms3, Bose-condensed ensembles4, cold clusters5 and hot molecules6. Coherence experiments with complex objects are of interest for exploring the transition to classical physics7, 8, 9, for measuring molecular properties10, and they have even been proposed for testing new models of space-time11. For matter-wave experiments with complex molecules, the strongly dispersive effect of the interaction between the diffracted molecule and the grating wall is a major challenge because it imposes enormous constraints on the velocity selection of the molecular beam12. Here, we describe the first experimental realization of a new set-up that solves this problem by combining the advantages of a so-called Talbot–Lau interferometer13 with the benefits of an optical phase grating.
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