Synthesis, structure and properties of metal nanoclusters

Chem Soc Rev. 2006 Nov;35(11):1162-94. doi: 10.1039/b517312b. Epub 2006 Oct 6.


Metal nanoclusters have physical properties differing significantly from their bulk counterparts. Metallic properties such as delocalization of electrons in bulk metals which imbue them with high electrical and thermal conductivity, light reflectivity and mechanical ductility may be wholly or partially absent in metal nanoclusters, while new properties develop. We review modern synthetic methods used to form metal nanoclusters. The focus of this critical review is solution based chemical synthesis methods which produce fully dispersed clusters. Control of cluster size and surface chemistry using inverse micelles is emphasized. Two classes of metals are discussed, transition metals such as Au and Pt, and base metals such as Co, Fe and Ni. The optical and catalytic properties of the former are discussed and the magnetic properties of the latter are given as examples of unexpected new size-dependent properties of nanoclusters. We show how classical surface science methods of characterization augmented by chemical analysis methods such as liquid chromatography can be used to provide feedback for improvements in synthetic protocols. Characterization of metal clusters by their optical, catalytic, or magnetic behavior also provides insights leading to improvements in synthetic methods. The collective physical properties of closely interacting clusters are reviewed followed by speculation on future technical applications of clusters. (125 references).