Small clusters of Pt adatoms grown on Pt(111) exhibit a preference for the formation of linear chains, which cannot be explained by simple diffusion-limited aggregation. Density functional theory calculations show that short chains are energetically favorable to more compact configurations due to strong directional bonding by dz²-like orbitals, explaining the stability of the chains. The formation of the chains is governed by substrate distortions, leading to funneling towards the chain ends.
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Corresponding author: Michael Schmid (schmid).