Probing the Angular Momentum Character of the Valence Orbitals of Free Sodium Nanoclusters

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Science  06 Mar 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5919, pp. 1323-1327
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168080

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Although many properties of polyatomic metal clusters have been rationalized by an electron shell model resembling that used for free atoms, it remained unclear how reliable this analogy is with respect to the angular momentum eigenstate character of the electronic wave functions. We studied free size-selected negatively charged clusters of sodium atoms (Nan) of approximately spherical shape (n = 19, 40, 55, 58, 147) by angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy over a broad range of photon energies (1.5 to 5 electron volts). Highly anisotropic, state- and energy-dependent angular distributions emerged for all sizes. Well-defined classes of energy dependence related to the approximate angular momenta of the bound-state orbitals indicate that the overall character of the valence electron wave functions is not appreciably influenced by the interaction with the ion background. The measured distributions nevertheless deviate strongly from the predictions of single-electron models, hinting at a distinct role of correlated multielectron effects in the photoemission process.

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