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If someone is charged up, the colour of their face might change, but they don't immediately pull off one of their arms, only to reattach it as a third leg. With some molecules, however, the situation is quite different - for example, in a gold cluster with seven atoms. In a charged state, the atoms arrange themselves differently than when they are uncharged. This was discovered by scientists at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences in Canada and by scientists working with the FELIX free electron laser at the FOM Institute in Rijnhuizen in the Netherlands. The researchers ingeniously combined an infrared spectrometer and a mass spectrometer to show the structures of uncharged gold nano particles for the first time. These particles are currently being considered as catalysts that support certain chemical reactions. (Science, August 1, 2008)
Chemically inert and expensive - these characteristics have dampened chemists' enthusiasm for gold - at least since the era of alchemy came to an end. However in recent years interest in the element has been rekindled. "It is possible that nano particles of precious metals are suitable candidates for catalysts in important reactions in the chemical industry," says Andr Fielicke, who headed up the work carried out by the Berlin-based researchers. This is because these tiny gold particles are very selective about which reactions they assist in.
Whether the gold nano particles favour certain reactions depends very much on their structure. Scientists at the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin have now developed a method to determine the structure of neutral gold clusters. Chemists have known for some time what some of these collections of up to a few dozen charged atoms look like. However pr
|Contact: Dr. Andr Fielicke|