Observation of the fcc-to-hcp transition in ensembles of argon nanoclusters.
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Macroscopic ensembles of weakly interacting argon nanoclusters are studied using x-ray diffraction in low vacuum. As the clusters grow by fusion with increasing temperature, their structure transforms from essentially face-centered cubic (fcc) to hexagonal close packed as the cluster size approaches ~10(5) atoms. The transformation involves intermediate orthorhombic phases. These data confirm extant theoretical predictions. They also indicate that growth kinetics and spatial constraints might play an important role in the formation of the fcc structure of bulk rare-gas solids, which still remains puzzling.