At present, we investigate the structure and the stability of NO+Arn (n ≤ 54) ionic clusters using analytical potential functions. The energy of these systems is described using additive potentials with VNO+Ar and VAr–Ar representing the pair potential interactions. To find the geometry of the lowest energy isomers of the NO+Arn clusters, we use the so-called basin hopping method of Wales et al. which combines a Monte-Carlo exploration and deformation method. The reliability of our model was checked by deriving the structures of the NO+Arn systems (n = 1, 2, 3 and 4) using ab initio Moller–Plesset perturbation theory up to second order (MP2) in connection with the aug-cc-pVTZ basis set. Magic numbers for sizes n = 8, 12, 18, 22, and 25 are found and they show a high relative stability. Our results reveal that a transition in the NO+ ion coordination from 8 (square antiprism) to 12 (icosahedrons) occurs for n = 11. Examination of the stable structures of the ionic clusters demonstrates that the first solvation shell closes at n = 12. Furthermore, we found that the NO+Arn (n = 12-54) clusters are structurally very similar to the homogenous rare gas clusters with a polyicosahedral packing pattern. The distribution exhibits an additional magic number at n = 54, consistent with the completion of a second solvation sphere around NO+. The effects of microsolvation of NO+ cation in Ar clusters are also discussed. Generally, our results agree with the available experimental and theoretical findings on NO+Arn clusters and more generally on diatomics solvated in Ar clusters.

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