Self-Arrangement of Molybdenum Particles into Cubes

Science  29 Mar 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 5001, pp. 1590-1592
DOI: 10.1126/science.251.5001.1590


An unusual distribution of particle sizes has been observed following the formation of molybdenum particles by argon ion sputtering. Many of the molybdenum particles produced by sputtering at the threshold pressure for particle formation in the vapor appear to be single crystalline cubes. There are two prominent peaks in the edge length distribution of the cubes, one centered at 4.8 nanometers with a halfwidth of approximately 1.3 nanometers and the other at 17.5 nanometers. The peak for the larger cubes is approximately square and has a total width of 7.0 nanometers. Evidence is presented that the larger cubes are formed by a 3 by 3 by 3 self-arrangement of the smaller cubes, which contain approximately 7000 atoms. Self-arrangement in inorganic structures is normally only observed when the building blocks are atoms, molecules, or clusters of less than 100 atoms.