Electronic structure transformation in small bare Au clusters as seen by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

T. Andersson, C. Zhang, O. Björneholm, M. H. Mikkelä, K. Jänkälä, D. Anin, S. Urpelainen, M. Huttula, M. Tchaplyguine

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Free bare gold clusters in the size range from few tens to few hundred atoms (≤1 nm dimensions) have been produced in a beam, and the size-dependent development of their full valence band including the 5d and 6s parts has been mapped 'on the fly' by synchrotron-based photoelectron spectroscopy. The Au 4f core level has been also probed, and the cluster-specific Au 4f ionization energies have been used to estimate the cluster size. The recorded in the present work valence spectra of the small clusters are compared with the spectra of the large clusters ( N ∼ 103) created by us using a magnetron-based gas aggregation source. The comparison shows a substantially narrower 5d valence band and the decrease in its splitting for gold clusters in the size range of few hundred atoms and below. Our DFT calculations involving the pseudopotential method show that the 5d band width of the ground state increases with the cluster size and by the size N = 20 becomes comparable with the experimental width of the valence photoelectron spectrum. Similar to the earlier observations on supported clusters we interpret our experimental and theoretical results as due to the undercoordination of a large fraction of atoms in the clusters with N ∼ 102 and below. The consequences of such electronic structure of small gold clusters are discussed in connection with their specific physical and chemical properties related to nanoplasmonics and nanocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number015102
JournalJournal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 14

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics

Free keywords

  • Au 4f core level
  • Au 5d valence band
  • free bare clusters
  • size-dependent electronic structure
  • synchrotron radiation
  • x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy


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