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ERIC Number: EJ1143395
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2469-9896
Investigating and Improving Student Understanding of Quantum Mechanics in the Context of Single Photon Interference
Marshman, Emily; Singh, Chandralekha
Physical Review Physics Education Research, v13 n1 p010117-1-010117-17 Jan-Jun 2017
Single photon experiments involving a Mach-Zehnder interferometer can illustrate the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, e.g., the wave-particle duality of a single photon, single photon interference, and the probabilistic nature of quantum measurement involving single photons. These experiments explicitly make the connection between the abstract quantum theory and concrete laboratory settings and have the potential to help students develop a solid grasp of the foundational issues in quantum mechanics. Here we describe students' conceptual difficulties with these topics in the context of Mach-Zehnder interferometer experiments with single photons and how the difficulties found in written surveys and individual interviews were used as a guide in the development of a Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorial (QuILT). The QuILT uses an inquiry-based approach to learning and takes into account the conceptual difficulties found via research to help upper-level undergraduate and graduate students learn about foundational quantum mechanics concepts using the concrete quantum optics context. It strives to help students learn the basics of quantum mechanics in the context of single photon experiment, develop the ability to apply fundamental quantum principles to experimental situations in quantum optics, and explore the differences between classical and quantum ideas in a concrete context. We discuss the findings from in-class evaluations suggesting that the QuILT was effective in helping students learn these abstract concepts.
American Physical Society. One Physics Ellipse 4th Floor, College Park, MD 20740-3844. Tel: 301-209-3200; Fax: 301-209-0865; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
Grant or Contract Numbers: PHY1505460