Which-way detector unlocks some mystery of the double-slit experiment: First, the scientists used focused ion beam milling to make two nanoslits on a barrier. Then they modified one of the slits by covering it with a filter made of several layers of “low atomic number” material to create a which-way detector for the electrons passing through.
Although the electrons (which were shot one by one) could still pass through the filtered slit, the filter caused more of the electrons to undergo inelastic scattering rather than elastic scattering. As the physicists explained, an electron undergoing inelastic scattering is localized at the covered slit, and acts like a spherical wave after passing through the slit. In contrast, an electron passing through the unfiltered slit is more likely to undergo elastic scattering, and act like a cylindrical wave after passing through that slit. The spherical wave and cylindrical wave do not have any phase correlation, and so even if an electron passed through both slits, the two different waves that come out cannot create an interference pattern on the wall behind them.
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