Scattering of fast neutral atoms with keV kinetic energies at alkali-halide surfaces under grazing angles displays intriguing diffraction patterns. The surprisingly strong persistence of quantum coherence despite the impulsive interaction with an environment at solid state density and elevated temperatures raises fundamental questions such as to the suppression of decoherence and of the quantum-to-classical crossover. We present an ab initio simulation of the quantum diffraction of fast helium beams at a LiF (100) surface in the direction and compare with recent experimental diffraction data. From the quantitative reconstruction of diffraction images the vertical LiF-surface reconstruction, or buckling, can be determined.
- Received 30 April 2008
©2008 American Physical Society