The Renaissance of Fullerene Superconductivity

  • Yasuhiro Takabayashi
  • Kosmas PrassidesEmail author
Part of the Structure and Bonding book series (STRUCTURE, volume 172)


Unconventional high-T c superconductivity, defined both in terms of the magnitude of the superconducting transition temperature, T c, and the key role played by electronic correlations, not only is the realm of atom-based low-dimensional layered systems such as the cuprates or the iron pnictides but is also accessible in molecular systems such as the cubic alkali fullerides with stoichiometry A3C60 (A=alkali metal). In fulleride superconductors, isotropic high-T c superconductivity occurs in competition with electronic ground states resulting from a fine balance between electron correlations and electron–phonon coupling in an electronic phase diagram strikingly similar to those of unconventional superconductors such as the cuprates and the heavy fermions. Superconductivity at the highest T c (38 K) known for any molecular material emerges from the antiferromagnetic insulating state solely by changing an electronic parameter – the overlap between the outer wave functions of the constituent molecules – and T c scales universally in a structure-independent dome-like relationship with proximity to the Mott metal–insulator transition (quantified by V, the volume/C60, or equivalently by (U/W), the ratio of the on-site Coulomb energy, U, to the electronic bandwidth, W), a hallmark of electron correlations characteristic of high-T c superconductors other than fullerides. The C60 molecular electronic structure plays a key role in the Mott–Jahn–Teller (MJT) insulator formed at large V, with the on-molecule dynamic Jahn–Teller (JT) effect distorting the C60 3– units and quenching the t 1u orbital degeneracy responsible for metallicity. As V decreases, the MJT insulator transforms first into an unconventional correlated JT metal (where localised electrons coexist with metallicity and the on-molecule distortion persists) and then into a Fermi liquid with a less prominent molecular electronic signature. This normal state crossover is mirrored in the evolution of the superconducting state, with the highest T c found at the boundary between unconventional correlated and conventional weak-coupling BCS superconductivity, where the interplay between extended and molecular aspects of the electronic structure is optimised to create the superconductivity dome.


Antiferromagnetism Electron correlation Fullerenes Jahn–Teller effect Metal–insulator transition Mott insulator Superconductivity 





Body-centred cubic


Body-centred orthorhombic




Electron paramagnetic resonance


Face-centred cubic


Face-centred orthorhombic


Highest occupied molecular orbital






Long-range order


Lowest unoccupied molecular orbital


Metal–insulator transition




Nuclear magnetic resonance


Zero field cooled


Muon spin relaxation



This work was sponsored by the ‘World Premier International (WPI) Research Center Initiative for Atoms, Molecules and Materials’, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Premier International – Advanced Institute for Materials Research (WPI-AIMR), Tohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

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