Understanding the evolution of the structure and properties in metals from molecule-like to bulk-like has been a long sought fundamental question in science, since Faraday's 1857 work. We report the discovery of a Janus nanomolecule, Au191(SPh-tBu)66 having both molecular and metallic characteristics, explored crystallographically and optically and modeled theoretically. Au191 has an anisotropic, singly twinned structure with an Au155 core protected by a ligand shell made of 24 monomeric [-S-Au-S-] and 6 dimeric [-S-Au-S-Au-S-] staples. The Au155 core is composed of an 89-atom inner core and 66 surface atoms, arranged as [Au3@Au23@Au63]@Au66 concentric shells of atoms. The inner core has a monotwinned/stacking-faulted face-centered-cubic (fcc) structure. Structural evolution in metal nanoparticles has been known to progress from multiply twinned, icosahedral, structures in smaller molecular sizes to untwinned bulk-like fcc monocrystalline nanostructures in larger nanoparticles. The monotwinned inner core structure of the ligand capped Au191 nanomolecule provides the critical missing link, and bridges the size-evolution gap between the molecular multiple-twinning regime and the bulk-metal-like particles with untwinned fcc structure. The Janus nature of the nanoparticle is demonstrated by its optical and electronic properties, with metal-like electron-phonon relaxation and molecule-like long-lived excited states. First-principles theoretical explorations of the electronic structure uncovered electronic stabilization through the opening of a shell-closing gap at the top of the occupied manifold of the delocalized electronic superatom spectrum of the inner core. The electronic stabilization together with the inner core geometric stability and the optimally stapled ligand-capping anchor and secure the stability of the entire nanomolecule.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry