Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Can waves of different types produce interference?

  1. Apr 5, 2012 #1
    Hi all. Just a quick question, probably a silly one.

    Due to wave-particle duality all particles have both wave-like and particle-like behaviors. The wave-like properties of, say, an electron can result in an electron interference pattern.

    So, my question is: Can waves of different things interfere? For example, an electron "wave" and an EM "wave"?

    I'm thinking no. It doesn't quite make sense to simply "add" two different types of waves to produce some sort of "mixed" interference. However, I'm looking for a bit of physical reasoning beyond this.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2012 #2
    Yes, they absolutely can. Lasers produce coherent light which is able to interfere with the "matter waves" (wave functions) of electrons or molecules. By playing around with the "shape" of the laser field in the time and frequency domains, you can "shape" the wave packet (collection of matter waves) of the system and control constructive or destructive interference and enhance or suppress certain quantities. This is called "coherent control". In fact, there's a Science article coming about how people have recently used this technique to control quantum tunneling. Very cool stuff.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook