Evolution of the properties of Al < inf> n N < inf> n clusters with size

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A global optimization of stoichiometric (AlN)n clusters (n = 1-25, 30, 35, ..., 95, 100) has been performed using the basin-hopping (BH) method and describing the interactions with simple and yet realistic interatomic potentials. The results for the smaller isomers agree with those of previous electronic structure calculations, thus validating the present scheme. The lowest-energy isomers found can be classified in three different categories according to their structural motifs: (i) small clusters (n = 2-5), with planar ring structures and 2-fold coordination, (ii) medium clusters (n = 6-40), where a competition between stacked rings and globular-like empty cages exists, and (iii) large clusters (n > 40), large enough to mix different elements of the previous stage. All the atoms in small and medium-sized clusters are in the surface, while large clusters start to display interior atoms. Large clusters display a competition between tetrahedral and octahedral-like features: the former lead to a lower energy interior in the cluster, while the latter allow for surface terminations with a lower energy. All of the properties studied present different regimes according to the above classification. It is of particular interest that the local properties of the interior atoms do converge to the bulk limit. The isomers with n = 6 and 12 are specially stable with respect to the gain or loss of AlN molecules. © 2005 American Chemical Society.

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Journal of Physical Chemistry B