April 26, 2012: Precise Assemblies, Clusters, Superatoms, and Cluster-Assembled Materials

Precise clusters offer a new set of building blocks with unique properties that can be leveraged both individually and in materials in which their coupling can be controlled by choice of linker, dimensionality, and structure. Initial measurements in both of these worlds have been made. Isolated adsorbed or tethered clusters are probed with low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy. Even closely related elements behave differently on identical substrates. Surprising spectral variations are found for repeated measurements of single isolated, tethered clusters. In periodic solids, precise clusters joined by linkers can be measured experimentally and treated theoretically with excellent agreement, in part due to the relatively weak coupling of the clusters. This coupling can be controlled and exploited to produce materials with tailored properties. Some of the rules of thumb for predicting these properties are being developed through these initial studies and the limit to which they can be applied is being explored.

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