Contrasting motif preferences of platinum and gold nanoclusters between 55 and 309 atoms†
The atomic structure of size-selected Pt clusters in the range 10–600 atoms is investigated with aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy and reveals significantly different behaviour from the existing data for Au clusters. The Pt clusters show a dominance of the FCC motif from relatively small sizes, whereas traditionally for Au multiple motifs – the icosahedron, decahedron and FCC motifs (and related structures) compete. The new data motivates a comprehensive computational investigation to better understand similarities and differences in the structures and energetics of the two different metallic clusters. Low energy structures of Pt and Au clusters with 55, 101, 147, 228 and 309 atoms (±2%) are identified using a global optimisation algorithm, and the relative energies found by local minimisation using density functional theory. Our computational results support the experimental observations; for Au clusters all motifs are comparably stable over the whole size range, whereas for Pt, the motifs only compete at the smallest sizes, after which the FCC motif is the most stable. Structural analysis suggests the greater tendency of Au towards amorphisation enables the icosahedron and decahedron to remain competitive at larger sizes.