For long, I have marveled at the thought that Mendeleev formulated the periodic table before the discovery of the electron and the knowledge of quantum mechanics. Although the periodic table is the mother of all materials, it is limited in the sense that the number of naturally elements as well as their chemistry is fixed by their outer electron configuration. Fortunately, the realization that at the nanoscale the properties of matter can be very different from their bulk and that the properties of clusters, the ultimate nanoparticles, can be fundamentally altered by the addition of a single atom, has given rise to new opportunities for materials science. By controlling the size, shape, and composition of nano-clusters, it is now possible to create materials with unprecedented properties, hitherto unknown in the nature. For example, gold, a noble metal in the bulk, can be reactive at the nanoscale and in small clusters can behave like a hydrogen atom as well as a halogen atom. The field of superatomic chemistry is an uncharted territory and I look forward to exciting discoveries.
Virginia Commonwealth University