We demonstrate that structures made of light can be used to coherently control the motion of complex molecules. In particular, we show diffraction of the fullerenes and at a thin grating based on a standing light wave. We prove experimentally that the principles of this effect, well known from atom optics, can be successfully extended to massive and large molecules which are internally in a thermodynamic mixed state and which do not exhibit narrow optical resonances. Our results will be important for the observation of quantum interference with even larger and more complex objects.
- Received 1 June 2001
©2001 American Physical Society