NHC-stabilized nano clusters
Nanoclusters are a unique class of nanomaterial in that they are materials with size-dependent properties, but unlike related nanoparticles, they are atomically precise single molecules, while nanoparticles are conglomerates of similar-sized species. Nanoclusters are typically prepared with thiol ligands as surface ligands, with some examples of phosphines. Neither of these ligands is perfect: thiol-based ligands exclusively protect clusters by surrounding them with a shell of oxidized Au species, and phosphines are weakly bound, limiting the stability of the resulting nanoclusters. NHCs are the best of both worlds, they keep the Au core in a metallic state, but bind with very strong bonds. These clusters have unique properties including the highest photoluminescence quantum yield ever recorded for nanoclusters.