Decomposing Magnetic Dark-Field Contrast in Spin Analyzed Talbot-Lau Interferometry: A Stern-Gerlach Experiment without Spatial Beam Splitting

We have recently shown how a polarized beam in Talbot-Lau interferometric imaging can be used to analyze strong magnetic fields through the spin dependent differential phase effect at field gradients. While in that case an adiabatic spin coupling with the sample field is required, here we investigate a nonadiabatic coupling causing a spatial splitting of the neutron spin states with respect to the external magnetic field. This subsequently leads to no phase contrast signal but a loss of interferometer visibility referred to as dark-field contrast. We demonstrate how the implementation of spin analysis to the Talbot-Lau interferometer setup enables one to recover the differential phase induced to a single spin state. Thus, we show that the dark-field contrast is a measure of the quantum mechanical spin split analogous to the Stern-Gerlach experiment without, however, spatial beam separation. In addition, the spin analyzed dark-field contrast imaging introduced here bears the potential to probe polarization dependent small-angle scattering and thus magnetic microstructures.