Gold nanoclusters are ultrasmall, precise collections of gold atoms surrounded by a protective ligand layer. They exist in the realm between molecular complexes and larger nanoparticles, and therefore often exhibit properties common to both. Through the study of gold nanoclusters, we can better understand the transition from discrete to bulk systems while simultaneously unveiling new chemistry. For example, an individual gold nanocluster tends to behave as a single unit even though it is comprised of dozens to hundreds of metal atoms. Despite this behavior, gold nanoclusters are also capable of metal replacement reactions at the single-atom level. The high degree of control possible in these systems has given way to a variety of gold nanoclusters with unique optical, magnetic, catalytic, and electrochemical properties.
During his time in the Kornberg lab, Dr. Ackerson contributed to the solution of the first gold nanocluster crystal structure, Au102(SR)44 (SR = thiolate). Research in our lab includes Au102 as well as other nuclearities such as Au25 and Au144. Our group attempts to further elucidate fundamental aspects of these nanoclusters, most often through post-synthetic modification and characterization.