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Small, But Super

These 'atoms' can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, but they have special powers

2:29pm, June 6, 2008

Gold comes in many colors. Since ancient times, glass artists and alchemists alike have known how to grind the metal into fine particles that would take on hues such as red or mauve. At scales even smaller, clusters of just a few dozen atoms display even more outlandish behavior. Gold and certain other atoms often tend to aggregate in specific numbers and highly symmetrical geometries, and sometimes these clusters can mimic the chemistry of single atoms of a completely different element. They become, as some researchers say, superatoms.

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