posted on Jun, 28 2005 @ 05:45 PM
A new 'class' of materials has been formed, which consist of clusters of atoms that behave as single atoms of another element, yet still retain the
same number of protons and electrons as the elements they came from. Aluminum was the first element to be studied because of its abundance and uses:
"The research theoretically and experimentally examined the chemical properties, electronic structure, and geometry of Al clusters in chemical
compounds containing iodine (I) atoms. The basis of this focus was experimental evidence indicating the existence of a very stable cluster
anion—Al13I—produced in the gasphase reaction of Al clusters with hydrogen iodine gas (see Figure 1). Mass spectrometric analysis revealed that
the reaction produced relatively few products, the most prevalent of which corresponded to anion Al13I."
"Further, energy calculations to determine the bonding mechanism existing between the Al cluster and the iodine atom confirmed that the extra
electron is localized on the Al13 cluster, indicating that the cluster maintains its integrity throughout the reaction and thus behaves like a single
iodine atom. Scientists actually consider the Al13I cluster anion a super halogen, because it displays a greater electron affinity than iodine
"To further promote the concept of manipulating Al-I clusters to form super atoms with unique properties, Dr. Khanna and his colleagues subsequently
created Al14I anion clusters and found that the resulting super atoms behaved like alkaline earth metals, such as beryllium, magnesium, barium,
radium, and strontium. “Ideally, we could create a whole series of clusters—a three-dimensional periodic table, not of elements but rather of
clusters that simulate the properties of the elements,” Dr. Khanna said. The goal is to use these clusters as building blocks to tailor the
design and ultimate formation of future nanoscale materials with selected properties.
Dr. Khanna’s team intends to expand its work to create
super atoms using metals other than Al."
I'm not sure how many of you will find this interesting, but it's really a major discovery and will have a gigantic impact on materials science and
engineering. Already some applications have been found. Aluminum13 clusters can be used to supercharge rocket fuel, and are better than regular
aluminum because they don't oxidize even the least amount. A cluster of Aluminum14 may be used as a lighter and more efficient conducting material.