(a) Fifty-four atom gold core consisting of two Mackay icosahedron shells. (b) The icosahedral gold core (pink) is covered by 60 gold atoms (yellow) making up the grand core. (c) Total structure, where the grand core is covered in ‘staples’—green atoms represent sulfur, whereas blue atoms represent gold in the staple structure. The organic carbon chains have been left out for clarity. (d) Illustration of staple structure on gold surface. (e) Thiolate ligands used in the study. From left: p-MBA, PET, SC4, SC6 and SC12.