We report experiments on aluminium nanowires in ultra-high vacuum at room temperature that reveal a periodic spectrum of exceptionally stable structures. Two 'magic' series of stable structures are observed: at low conductance, the formation of stable nanowires is governed by electronic shell effects whereas for larger contacts atomic packing dominates. The crossover between the two regimes is found to be smooth. A detailed comparison of the experimental results to a theoretical stability analysis indicates that, while the main features of the observed electron-shell structure are similar to those of alkali and noble metals, a sequence of extremely stable wires plays a unique role in aluminium. This series appears isolated in conductance histograms and can be attributed to 'superdeformed' non-axisymmetric nanowires.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering