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Having performed this experiment, I have gotten clean results. Essentially, a double slit is made by putting a photon beam in the way of a wire with orthogonal polarizers on either side. This destroys the expected interference pattern since the polarized filters "measure" the path of the photons. However if one places a 45-degree polarizer that allows the orthogonal light waves to both pass through, the interference pattern restores. According to the article, this is a "quantum eraser" since the wave nature was destroyed with the perpendicular polarizers and restored afterwards with the 45-degree filter.
This being said, I also understand that the classical Fresnel-Arago laws state that orthogonal waves do not interfere. Wikipedia also mentions that when [particle detectors are at the slits], the wave function should collapse. But it also states that this experiment has never been published. Here we have an experiment that places a "detector" at the slits, and as far as Scientific American says, it has collapsed and even restored the wave function. Now, I can only think of 2 conclusions to this:
- The Fresnel-Arago Laws were a precursor to quantum mechanics and there is no interference because the information has been leaked into the outside environment
- This is purely a classical experiment and can be explained as such
Is this experiment just a demonstration of classical optics or is there actually a quantum nature to this? I also wonder if Fresnel and Arago had an explanation to the nature of orthogonal light waves, or if the quantum mechanical wave collapse due to observation is the only reason. Does anybody have information on this?
Much gratitude for your thoughts! This is for a science fair project for my high school, so I would greatly appreciate it since I no longer know whether I should present it as a classical twist to the double-slit experiment or a true quantum mechanical phenomenon.