The combination of profound chirality and high symmetry on the nm-scale is unusual and would open exciting avenues, both fundamental and applied. Here we show how the unique electronic structure and bonding of quasi-2D gold makes this possible. We report a chiral symmetry breaking, i.e., the spontaneous formation of a chiral-icosahedral shell (I−Au60) from achiral (Ih) precursor forms, accompanied by a contraction in the Au–Au bonding and hence the radius of this perfect golden sphere, in which all 60 sites are chemically equivalent. This structure, which resembles the most complex of semi-regular (Archimedean) polyhedra (34.5*), may be viewed as an optimal solution to the topological problem: how to close a 60-vertex 2D (triangular) net in 3D. The singular rigidity of the I−Au60 manifests in uniquely discrete structural, vibrational, electronic, and optical signatures, which we report herein as a guide to its experimental detection and ultimately its isolation in material forms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy