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Technische Universitaet Muenchen
A bronze matryoshka doll: The metal in the metal in the metal
February 20th, 2012
This is how the new metal clusters, nested inside each other just like the Russian doll, came into existence. When bronze is heated, together with potassium or sodium, to 600 to 800 degrees Celsius, the alkali metals act like scissors that cut up the alloy grid and then edge their way between the pieces, thereby stabilizing the isolated atomic clusters. On their own, these clusters cannot organize themselves into dense, uniformly structured layers to form crystals. They are made up of pentagons with 20 tin atoms in all - a constellation in which repetitive patterns are not possible under normal conditions. But "cheating" a little and using potassium atoms as glue can produce a seemingly...
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Source: VerticalNews Nanotechnology (2012-02-20)