Tunneling Experiments

Alexander Goth

My project was inspired by an article by B. Schuh in the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit", no 30, published 21st July 1995. It reports that Prof. G. Nimtz from University of Cologne succeeded in transmitting information (Mozart's 40th symphony) faster than the speed of light in vacuum using microwaves.

I got very curious and I wanted to test experimentally whether this could be true as transmission of information faster than the speed of light is impossible according to A. Einstein. As the newspaper article did not contain a description of the experimental setup, I got the original publication, Phys. Bl. 49 (1993) no. 12. Somewhat sceptically, I attempted to repeat the experiment of G. Nimtz with the experimental equipment available to me.

After several preliminary tests and after studying the theoretical background, I built a waveguide consisting of two metal plates with variable spacing a (see figure below). I sent microwaves with a wavelength of 3.2 cm through this waveguide and my detector did receive the transmitted signal. When reducing the spacing a between the metal plates, I found that there was a critical spacing ac below which the microwaves could not pass through the waveguide. I was unable to detect any tunnelling wave with substantially reduced amplitude.

Setup for microwave tunnelling experiments.

Despite great efforts, I was unable to detect tunnelling microwaves at the end of the waveguide. Therefore, I believe that my initial scepticism regarding the superluminal transmission of information by G. Nimtz may have been justified.

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