From effective medicines to molecular sensors to fuel cells, metal clusters are becoming fundamentally useful in the health, environment, and energy sectors.

Now, scientists led by Professor Yuichi Negishi, of the Department of Applied Chemistry at Tokyo University of Science, add to this ongoing tale by explaining the dynamics of the metal cluster, thiolate-protected gold-silver alloy, in solution; this helps in understanding the stability, geometry, and tenability of these clusters for their applications.

Metal clusters are formed when a bunch of metal atoms come together to form clumps, somewhere between the size of a molecule and that of a bulk solid.

Recently, these clusters have gained a lot of attention owing to their diverse chemical capabilities that depend on their size and composition.

Unlike the closed, set, and stable packing observed in bulk metal lattices, the geometry of these clusters, which often governs their chemical reactivity too, is based on special atomic arrangements that minimize the energy.

Furthermore, their functionalities vary depending on the number of constituent atoms in the cluster.

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