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July 14th, 2008
A report published in the July 8 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is the first to describe the principles behind the stability and electronic properties of tiny nanoclusters of metallic gold. The study, which confirms the "divide and protect" bonding structure, resulted from the work of researchers at four universities on two continents.
"While gold nanoparticles are being used by so many researchers - chemists, materials scientists and biomedical engineers - no one understood their molecular and electronic structures until now," said Robert Whetten, a professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Physics and School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "This research opens a new window for nanoparticle chemistry."
Gold and sulphur atoms tend to aggregate in specific numbers and highly symmetrical geometries. Sometimes these clusters are called "superatoms" because they can mimic the chemistry of single atoms of a completely different element.
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