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February 23rd, 2005

Small is Different

Years ago, when Uzi Landman and his colleagues set out to uncover some of the rules that govern why a non-reactive metal like gold acts as a catalyst when it is in nanoclusters only a few atoms in size, they didnít sit down in a lab with the precious metal. Instead, they ran computer simulations and discovered that gold is a very effective catalyst when it is in clusters of eight to two dozen atoms. They also found that electrical charging of gold is crucial to its catalytic capabilities. Six years later, the team has verified their earlier predictions experimentally, and they stand ready to further explore environmental effects on catalysis.

Georgia Institute of Technology

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