The validity of the superposition principle and of Born's rule are well-accepted tenants of quantum mechanics. Surprisingly, it has been predicted that the intensity pattern formed in a three-slit experiment is seemingly in contradiction with the most conventional form of the superposition principle when exotic looped trajectories are taken into account. However, the probability of observing such paths is typically very small, thus rendering them extremely difficult to measure. Here we confirm the validity of Born's rule and present the first experimental observation of exotic trajectories as additional paths for the light by directly measuring their contribution to the formation of optical interference fringes. We accomplish this by enhancing the electromagnetic near-fields in the vicinity of the slits through the excitation of surface plasmons. This process increases the probability of occurrence of these exotic trajectories, demonstrating that they are related to the near-field component of the photon's wavefunction.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Magaña-Loaiza, O., De Leon, I., Mirhosseini, M., Fickler, R., Safari, A., Mick, U., McIntyre, B., Banzer, P., Rodenburg, B., Leuchs, G., & Boyd, R. (2016). Exotic looped trajectories of photons in three-slit interference. Nature Communications, 7 https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms13987