CHEM 750/7500-04 - Atomic and Molecular Clusters

Semester: Winter 2023

Professor: S. Hopkins | Discipline: Physical | Campus: Waterloo


Atomic and molecular clusters constitute intermediates between molecules, with clearly defined quantum states, and condensed matter where these states form bands or continua. As such, the study of clusters can be viewed as a means of unravelling the evolution of bulk properties from those of the constituent atoms/molecules. Interestingly, owing to the high ratio of surface atoms to bulk atoms, there are many analogies between the chemistry and physics of clusters and of solid surfaces. For this reason, clusters have traditionally been regarded as test cases for the study of surface reactivity and heterogeneous catalytic activity. More recently, however, attention has shifted towards cluster finite size effects, which leads to electronic, magnetic, optical, and chemical properties that are quite different from those of molecules or condensed matter. Now, the use of clusters as components in nanodevices is also attracting a great deal of attention. This course will describe the experimental generation, detection and interrogation of clusters, as well as the theoretical approaches that have been developed to aid in our understanding of their physical properties.

Unit 1 – Introduction to Cluster Theory
Unit 2 – Ionic Clusters
Unit 3 – Metal Clusters
Unit 4 – Pure Rare Gas Clusters
Unit 5 – Doped Rare Gas Clusters
Unit 6 – Molecular Clusters
Unit 7 – Semiconductor Clusters


The text for this course is a comprehensive set of notes that will be available on the course site. Students will also find the text “Atomic and Molecular Clusters” by Roy L. Johnston to be useful. This book can be found in the UW Davis library (QC173.4.M48 J64). A second text titled “Atomic and Molecular Clusters” by Elliot R. Bernstein (QD461.A857) is also available to students at UW for further reading. For an in depth study of cluster potential energy surfaces, the text “Energy Landscapes” by David J. Wales (QD462.6.P64 W35) is an excellent resource.


Assignments:             0 % (For Practise)

Exams:                      ca. 33 % each (three of; to be scheduled)




  • Mon: 1:30 pm - 2:20 pm in AL 105
  • Wed: 1:30 pm - 2:20 pm in AL 105
  • Fri: 1:30 pm - 2:20 pm in AL 105

Office Hours

Office Hours: by appointment Telephone: 519-888-4567 x33022 E-mail: [email protected]