A baby crystal is born

Jan 17, 2012

Lead sulfide (PbS) forms when an equal number of lead and sulfur atoms exchange electrons and bond together in cubic crystals. Now scientists have determined that a structure comprising 32 lead-sulfur pairs is the smallest possible cubic arrangement that exhibits the same coordination as bulk lead sulfide. (The coordination number is the number of nearest neighbors each atom in the crystal has.)

Researchers from McNeese State University in Louisiana, John Hopkins University in Maryland, and the University of Konstanz in Germany identified the "baby crystal" by running that calculated the energy and geometry of different structures containing different numbers of atoms. They found that (PbS)32 is the smallest stable unit that possesses both the same cubic structure and coordination number as the bulk crystal. The researchers also experimentally tested their theoretical findings by gently depositing (PbS)32 clusters on a graphite surface where they could easily migrate and merge together to form larger .

By using images to measure the dimensions of the resultant lead sulfide nano-blocks, the researchers confirmed that the (PbS)32 "baby crystals" had indeed stacked together as theoretically predicted.

The results, published in the AIP's , show how small lead sulfide crystals come together to form larger units and could help provide a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the formation of solids.

Explore further: Physicists advance understanding of transition metal oxides used in electronics

More information: B. Kiran et al. "(PbS)32: A Baby Crystal", Journal of Chemical Physics.

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User comments : 2

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deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2012
But if one has a small enough needle can a site be found on the surface of (PbS)32 that behaves as a rectifier for a crystal radio?
Graeme
not rated yet Jan 22, 2012
An experiment to show that (PbS)31 does not form a cubic crystal would be in order too!

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