• aberration-corrected STEM;
  • EXAFS spectroscopy;
  • MgO-supported clusters;
  • osmium carbonyls


The structures of small, robust metal clusters on a solid support were determined by a combination of spectroscopic and microscopic methods: extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy, scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), and aberration-corrected STEM. The samples were synthesized from [Os3(CO)12] on MgO powder to provide supported clusters intended to be triosmium. The results demonstrate that the supported clusters are robust in the absence of oxidants. Conventional high-angle annular dark-field (HAADF) STEM images demonstrate a high degree of uniformity of the clusters, with root-mean-square (rms) radii of 2.03±0.06 Å. The EXAFS Os[BOND]Os coordination number of 2.1±0.4 confirms the presence of triosmium clusters on average and correspondingly determines an average rms cluster radius of 2.02±0.04 Å. The high-resolution STEM images show the individual Os atoms in the clusters, confirming the triangular structures of their frames and determining Os[BOND]Os distances of 2.80±0.14 Å, matching the EXAFS value of 2.89±0.06 Å. IR and EXAFS spectra demonstrate the presence of CO ligands on the clusters. This set of techniques is recommended as optimal for detailed and reliable structural characterization of supported clusters.