The electronic structure of unsupported nano-objects has long been of fundamental interest, as abrupt changes and surprising quantum phenomena appear when single atom properties evolve to the collective electronic properties of infinite solids. However, also from the applied point of view the investigation of free-standing nano-sized matter is now more timely than ever: nanoparticles are ubiquitous in nature with impact on human health and climate. Geometrical and electronic structure of nanoparticles’ surface critically determines their chemical reactivity.
Therefore, studying the structure of the first layers of nanomaterials is of utmost importance, and when it comes to surface sensitive techniques probing the electronic structure of matter, there is no other like soft X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. In this presentation, I will describe some recent soft X-ray spectroscopy studies of unsupported sea salt nanoparticles carried out at the PLEIADES beamline at the Synchrotron SOLEIL (Saint-Aubin, France) in collaboration with researchers from ACES and Uppsala University.