The quantum Zero effect is the inhibition of transitions between quantum states by frequent measurements of the state. The inhibition arises because the measurement causes a collapse (reduction) of the wave function. If the time between measurements is short enough, the wave function usually collapses back to the initial state. We have observed this effect in an rf transition between two ground-state hyperfine levels. The ions were confined in a Penning trap and laser cooled. Short pulses of light, applied at the same time as the rf field, made the measurements. If an ion was in one state, it scattered a few photons; if it was in the other, it scattered no photons. In the latter case the wave-function collapse was due to a null measurement. Good agreement was found with calculations.
- Received 12 October 1989
- Published in the issue dated March 1990
© 1990 The American Physical Society