In the double slit experiment with electrons, are all electrons going through the slits? If the electron gun is directed between two slits, than it should hit the central part between the slits, isn't it? So if one would count (not watch the flying electrons, to not collapse the wave function) the electrons hited the central part and the screen - would the whole number of electrons be the same number shot from the gun?

Additional question: if the part with two slits has a thickness, could an electron hit the inner surface (side) of the slit (still, no watching the electrons in the space, but only detecting the hits of the surface in the slit)?

The idea behind the question: could some electrons just get lost or go through the wall between slits without hitting it?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hint: aim a flashlight at two slits. Does all the light go thru the slits? $\endgroup$ May 27, 2014 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft : yes, but still, if one would count photons - the same question comes to the mind: are the number of shot photons and the photons that hited the surface the same? and do they hit also the surface of the piece with slits? if yes - would they still hit the screen surface and so appearing twice or what? $\endgroup$
    – static
    May 27, 2014 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


For the sake of simplicity, I'll use "screen" to mean the final surface we'd take measurements from, and "wall" as the thing with the slits in.

Could some electrons just get lost or go through the wall between slits?

Not realistically, no.

Assuming that all of the emitted electrons will either hit the wall or the screen, I don't see any way for electrons to be "lost"*. The chances of an electron passing through the screen somehow (eg. via quantum tunnelling) are vanishingly small as the screen's thickness is relatively very large.

*In reality, electrons might fall short due to interactions with air or dust, or they might miss entirely!

If [the wall] has a thickness, could an electron hit the side of the slit?

Of course! Hopefully though, the equipment would be set up in such a way that the chance of this is minimised. Any impacts of this kind would be counted the same as electrons impacting the wall in the normal (heh...) way.

Would the [total] number of electrons [observed impacting the screen OR the wall] be the same [as the number emitted]?

Yes! Taking from above that no electrons are "lost", then all the emitted electrons will either impact the screen or the wall.

Recently (as "recently" as Christmas 2012) a series of brilliant animations have popped up on Wikipedia. This one in particular (or is that wave-ular...?), as seen on the Wave-Particle Duality page gives a really concise demonstration of the double slit experiment with electrons.

As described in the animation, the emitted electrons behave as a wave right up until they interact with something, in this case the screen or wall, and the interactions we see on the screen (not the wall) follow the same diffraction pattern as that of light in a similar set-up.

The key thing to take from the animation is that the amplitude of the diffraction pattern (for light, the brighter and darker lines or "fringes") dictates the likelihood of electron impacts and NOT where somehow some electrons are more energetic and others are magically lost to the aether.


Are all electrons going through the slits?


If the electron gun is directed between two slits, than [shouldn't the electrons all] hit the central part between the slits?

NO! It's easy to imagine emitted electrons as all following the same perfectly straight path from gun to wall, but in reality things usually don't actually behave that way.

Here are a couple of nice pictures I found: [One], [Two]

There is always going to be some divergence in the emitted electrons. Besides, what would be the point of the experiment if you made sure all the electrons were hitting the wall?

  • $\begingroup$ So the gun is directed between the slits, but still not all of them hit this place, instead going though one or another or both or none of them? I mean, if we direct the electron gun directly in the place between the slits shouldn't it hit only this place (will any one hit in the realithy)? I see only two explanations: $\endgroup$
    – static
    May 28, 2014 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ 1) electron behaves as a wave -> it goes through the wall as a wave, and if we are watching - it will only hit the central place of the wall between the slits as a particle (due to collapse of wave function), and never the screen (because we directed the gun precise in the center between slts), but as here visualized here [dr. quantum video :) youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc] it still goes through one or another slit, why? does the wall influence the electron somehow? $\endgroup$
    – static
    May 28, 2014 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ 2) due to the technical restrictions we can not create a gun which will shoot so precise in one point -> it is a distribution on the square. Otherwise (if the gun could be so precise) would it shoot directly to one point between the slits? Which one of two explanations (or none of them) is true? $\endgroup$
    – static
    May 28, 2014 at 15:18

The big questions with this experiment is something else. It is about of recording of where The particule goes. On The Left ore right. Or Both. When is recording The particule is moving as a particule , no interference. But When it is no recording by sensors it has a wave behaviour. Moreover other experiments confirm That The light is Smart. It know That it will be observase or recorded

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how this answers the question. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind
    Apr 5, 2015 at 23:08

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