Low energy structured of gold nanoclusters in the size range 3-38 atoms

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Journal Article
Journal of Molecular Structure, 2004, 686 (1-3), pp. 193 - 205
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Using a combination of first principles calculations and empirical potentials we have undertaken a systematic study of the low energy structures of gold nanoclusters containing from 3 to 38 atoms. A Lennard-Jones and many-body potential have been used in the empirical calculations, while the first principles calculations employ an atomic orbital, density functional technique. For the smaller clusters (n=35) the potential energy surface has been mapped at the ab initio level and for larger clusters an empirical potential was first used to identify low energy candidates which were then optimised with full ab initio calculations. At the DFT-LDA level, planar structures persist up to six atoms and are considerably more stable than the cage structures by more than 0.1 eV/atom. The difference in ab initio energy between the most stable planar and cage structures for seven atoms is only 0.04 eV/atom. For larger clusters there are generally a number of minima in the potential energy surface lying very close in energy. Furthermore our calculations do not predict ordered structures for the magic numbers n=13 and 38. They do predict the ordered tetrahedral structure for n=20. The results of the calculations show that gold nanoclusters in this size range are mainly disordered and will likely exist in a range of structures at room temperature.
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