Free Metal Clusters Studied by Photoelectron Spectroscopy
Abstract: Clusters are aggregates of a finite number of atoms or molecules. In the present work, free clusters out of metallic parent materials have been created and studied by synchrotron radiation-based photoelectron spectroscopy. The clusters have been formed and studied in a beam and the electronic structure of the clusters has been investigated. Conclusions have been drawn about the spatial distribution of atoms of different elements in bi-component clusters, about the development of metallicity in small clusters, and about the excitation of plasmons.Bi-component alloy clusters of sodium and potassium and of copper and silver have been produced. The site-sensitivity of the photoelectron spectroscopy technique has allowed us to probe the geometric distribution of the atoms of the constituent elements by comparing the responses from the bulk and surface of the clusters. In both cases, we have found evidence for a surface-segregated structure, with the element with the largest atoms and lowest cohesive energy (potassium and silver, correspondingly) dominating the surface and with a mixed bulk.Small clusters of tin and lead have been probed to investigate the development of metallicity. The difference in screening efficiency between metals and non-metals has been utilized to determine in what size range an aggregate of atoms of these metallic parent materials stops to be metallic. For tin this has been found to occur below ~40 atoms while for lead it happened somewhere below 20-30 atoms.The excitation of bulk and surface plasmons has been studied in clusters of sodium, potassium, magnesium and aluminium, with radii in the nanometer range. The excitation energies have been found to be close to those of the corresponding macroscopic solids. We have also observed spectral features corresponding to multi-quantum plasmon excitation in clusters of Na and K. Such features have in macroscopic solids been interpreted as due to harmonic plasmon excitation. Our observations of features corresponding to the excitation of one bulk and one surface plasmon however suggest the presence of sequential excitation in clusters.
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