A nanoscale twist in the tale
Tuesday 6 November 2012

The chirality, or “right-versus-left-handedness”, of a molecule can have a critical impact on its behaviour and safety, especially in living systems. Small gold clusters are now known to be active in molecular catalysis, so the evidence that the gold-55 cluster is (or can be) chiral, published by Zhiwei Wang and Richard Palmer in Nano Letters is of special interest. The discovery is (yet) another exciting result of the application of aberration-corrected STEM to size-selected clusters at the NPRL. As with the gold-20 cluster, the analysis of gold-55 shows one specific structure – the chiral isomer predicted by theory – manifesting itself repeatedly out of the continual flux of structures which the cluster explores over time. Slowly but relentlessly, a new paradigm of the dynamic atomic structure of nanoparticles is emerging…