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Surface mediated assembly of small, metastable gold nanoclusters



John M. Pettibone, William A. Osborn, Konrad Rykaczewski, Albert A. Talin, John E. Bonevich, Jeffrey W. Hudgens


The unique properties of metallic nanoclusters are attractive for numerous commercial and industrial applications but are generally less stable than nanocrystals. Thus, developing methodologies for stabilizing nanoclusters and retaining their enhanced functionality is of great interest. We report the assembly of PPh3-protected Au9 clusters from a heterogeneous mixture into films consisting of sub 3 nm nanocluster assemblies. The depositing nanoclusters are metastable in solution, but the resulting nanocluster assemblies are stabilized indefinitely in air or fresh solvent. The films exhibit distinct structure from Au nanoparticles observed by X-ray diffraction, and film dissolution data support the preservation of small nanoclusters. UV-Vis spectroscopy, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and electron microscopy are used to elucidate information regarding the nanocluster formation and assembly mechanism. Preferential deposition of nanocluster assemblies can be achieved on multiple substrates, including polymer, Cr, Si, SiO2, SiNx, and metal–organic frameworks (MOFs). Unlike other vapor phase coating processes, nanocluster assembly on the MIL-68(In) MOF crystal is capable of preferentially coating the external surface and stabilizing the crystal structure in hydrothermal conditions, which should enhance their storage, separation and delivery capabilities.


PPh3, electroless deposition, dissolution, monodisperse products


Pettibone, J. , Osborn, W. , Rykaczewski, K. , Talin, A. , Bonevich, J. and Hudgens, J. (2013), Surface mediated assembly of small, metastable gold nanoclusters, Nanoscale, [online], (Accessed April 12, 2024)
Created May 27, 2013, Updated November 10, 2018