Formation and stability of dense arrays of Au nanoclusters on hexagonal boron nitride/Rh(111)

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We have studied the nucleation and growth of Au clusters at submonolayer and greater coverages on the h-BN nanomesh grown on Rh(111) by means of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and density functional theory (DFT). STM reveals that submonolayer Au deposited at 115 K nucleates within the nanomesh pores and remains confined to the pores even after warming to room temperature. Whereas there is a propensity of monoatomic high islands at low temperature, upon annealing, bi- and multilayer Au clusters emerge. Deposition of higher coverages of Au similarly results in Au clusters primarily confined to the nanomesh pores at room temperature. XPS analysis of core-level electronic states in the deposited Au shows strong final-state effects induced by restricted particle size dominating for low Au coverage, with indications that larger Au clusters are negatively charged by interaction through the h-BN monolayer. DFT calculations suggest that the structure of the Au clusters transitions from monolayer to bilayer at a size between 30 and 37 atoms per cluster, in line with our experiment. Bader charge analysis supports the negative charge state of deposited Au. © 2014 American Physical Society.

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Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics

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