Geometric Quantification of Chirality in Ligand-Protected Metal Clusters

J. Jesús Pelayo, Robert L. Whetten, Ignacio L. Garzón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Chirality has been found as a relevant property of nanomaterials, including ligand-protected metal clusters and nanorods. This property not only is crucial in nanotechnology developments related to asymmetric catalysis and chiroptical phenomena but also generates fundamental questions on the existence of chirality at the nanoscale. In fact, X-ray total structure determination, electron diffraction studies, NMR, and circular dichroism spectroscopies as well as theoretical calculations performed on gold clusters protected with thiolate or phosphine ligands have confirmed the existence of chiral structures in the size range of 18-144 Au atoms. In this work, we realize a comparative analysis of the degree or amount of chirality existing in chiral ligand-protected gold clusters (LPGC), through a geometric quantification, using the Hausdorff chirality measure (HCM). The calculated HCM values provide a quantitative framework to compare, classify, and gain insight into the origin of chirality. Interestingly, these values are consistent with the current knowledge on the different sources of chirality: achiral cores and chiral arrangement of ligands in, for example, Au102(SR)44 and Au38(SR)24 or intrinsically chiral cores, like in Au52(SR)32 and Au20 protected with phosphine ligands. Our calculations are also helpful to assign an index of chirality and classify as chiral several recently synthesized and structurally solved LPGC that in first instance were not identified as such. The calculated HCM values are used to extract trends on how chirality is spatially distributed in LPGC and correlate them with optical activity measurements. The main trend indicates that the Au-S interface has the dominant role in the chirality of LPGC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28666-28678
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 24 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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