Abstract Atomic clusters with a large surface to volume ratio exhibit unique structural and electronic properties. It is expected that novel materials could be synthesized if clusters, instead of atoms, can be used as building blocks. The key in this process is to prevent the clusters from coalescing. This could be achieved by passivating the clusters or by embedding them in matrices. It is also possible to envision a new class of clusters whose size and composition can be manipulated to render them unusual stability. This paper deals with such “designer” clusters and discusses the properties of crystals of those clusters.