Increasing Atomic Electron Cloud Density Leads to Formation of Body Centered Cubic (BCC) Gold

10 June 2024, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Most metallic elements possess one relatively close packed structure of body-centered cubic (BCC), face-centered cubic (FCC) and hexagonal close packed (HCP) structures under ambient conditions. Access to these structures as a function of temperature and pressure varies for different groups in the periodic table. Under low pressures, the copper group elements (copper (Cu), silver (Ag) and gold (Au)) only has a FCC solid structure regardless of temperatures. Recently, BCC Au was detected under extreme pressures. The structural preference for a given metal element is still not understood. In this work, we surprisingly observed formation of BCC Au from amorphous Au as well as FCC Au within an electron self-transferred Au nanoparticle supported by our synthesized zirconium hydroxide nitrate tube in vacuum at room temperature. We propose a theory behind this unexpected phase formation: the increase in atomic electron cloud densities of Au atoms enabled by the electron transfer contributes more free electrons over the Au nanoparticle, enhancing metallic bonding strength to hold Au atoms closer to form a BCC structure that can store denser electron states within a Fermi sphere in first Brillouin zone as compared to FCC Au. This can also explain formation of BCC Au under compression. Our theory here can be a supplement to the metallic bonding theory and our strategy can guide how to expand the structure world of metals under ambient conditions for beneficial applications.


atomic electron cloud density
metallic bonding
electron transfer
zirconium hydroxide nitrate tube
electron irradiation

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Experimental details and supplementary results.


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