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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Jan 9;92(1):013401. Epub 2004 Jan 6.

Formation and stability of high-spin alkali clusters.

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Max-Born-Institut, Max-Born-Strasse 2a, D-12489 Berlin, Germany.


Helium nanodroplet isolation has been applied to agglomerate alkali clusters at temperatures of 380 mK. The very weak binding to the surface of the droplets allows a selection of only weakly bound, high-spin states. Here we show that larger clusters of alkali atoms in high-spin states can be formed. The lack of strong bonds from pairing electrons makes these systems nonmetallic, van der Waals-like complexes of metal atoms. We find that sodium and potassium readily form such clusters containing up to 25 atoms. In contrast, this process is suppressed for rubidium and cesium. Apparently, for these heavy alkalis, larger high-spin aggregates are not stable and depolarize spontaneously upon cluster formation.

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