Unraveling the planar-globular transition in gold nanoclusters through evolutionary search

Alper Kinaci, Badri Narayanan, Fatih G. Sen, Michael J. Davis, Stephen K. Gray, Subramanian K.R.S. Sankaranarayanan, Maria K.Y. Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Au nanoclusters are of technological relevance for catalysis, photonics, sensors, and of fundamental scientific interest owing to planar to globular structural transformation at an anomalously high number of atoms i.e. in the range 12-14. The nature and causes of this transition remain a mystery. In order to unravel this conundrum, high throughput density functional theory (DFT) calculations, coupled with a global structural optimization scheme based on a modified genetic algorithm (GA) are conducted. More than 20,000 Au 12, Au 13, and Au 14 nanoclusters are evaluated. With any DFT functional, globular and planar structures coexist across the size range of interest. The planar-globular transition is gradual at room temperature rather than a sharp transition as previously believed. The effects of anionicity, s-d band hybridization and long range interactions on the dimensional transition are quantified by using the structures adjacent to the minima. Anionicity marginally changes the relative stability of the clusters. The degree of s-d hybridization is varied via changing the Hubbard U value which corroborate that s-d hybridization alone does not stabilize planar structures. van der Waals interactions, on the other hand, stabilize globular structures. These results elucidate the balance between the different reasons of the dimensional transition in gold nanoclusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number34974
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Nov 28 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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