Oxidation-Resistant Gold-55 Clusters

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Science  30 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5586, pp. 1533-1536
DOI: 10.1126/science.1076248

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Gold nanoparticles ranging in diameter from 1 to 8 nanometers were prepared on top of silicon wafers in order to study the size dependence of their oxidation behavior when exposed to atomic oxygen. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy showed a maximum oxidation resistance for “magic-number” clusters containing 55 gold atoms. This inertness is not related to electron confinement leading to a size-induced metal-to-insulator transition, but rather seems to be linked to the closed-shell structure of such magic clusters. The result additionally suggests that gold-55 clusters may act as especially effective oxidation catalysts, such as for oxidizing carbon monoxide.

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