Unravelling three-dimensional structures and dynamical fluctuation of metal nanoclusters is critical to understanding reaction process and the origin of catalytic activity in many heterogeneous catalytic systems. We obtain three-dimensional structures of ultra-small Au clusters by combining aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy, density functional theory calculations, and imaging simulations. The configurations of unique Au clusters are revealed at the atomic scale and the corresponding electronic states are given. The sequential observations reveal a transition of ultra-small Au clusters with about 25 atoms from a near-square to an elongated structure. We also find a transition from two dimensions to three dimensions for the Au clusters. The obtained three-dimensional geometry and associated electronic states help to clarify atomistic mechanism of shape- and number-dependent catalytic activities of Au clusters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)