âzmâyeš-e Stern-Gerlach (#)
Fr.: expérience de Stern et Gerlach
An experiment devised for measuring the → magnetic moment of → silver atoms. A → beam of silver atoms is directed between the → poles of a non-homogeneous → magnetic field. Contrarily to the prediction of the classical theory, the atoms divide into two distinct parts. One half of atoms are deflected up, the other half deflected down. The amount of deflection up or down is exactly of the same magnitude. Whether an individual atom is deflected up or down appears to be random. From a measurement of the → deflection, one can find the strength of the magnetic moment. This experience provides proof that there exist only two permitted orientations, called the → quantization of → spin.
In honor of Otto Stern (1888-1969), German physicist, Nobel laureate in Physics 1943, and Walter Gerlach (1889-1979), German physicist, who carried out the experiment in 1922. They used a beam of silver atoms from a hot oven because they could be readily detected on a photograph emulsion. Moreover, the silver atoms allowed studying the magnetic properties of a single electron because the atoms have a single outer electron; → experiment.