Superconductivity without phonons

Nature. 2007 Dec 20;450(7173):1177-83. doi: 10.1038/nature06480.


The idea of superconductivity without the mediating role of lattice vibrations (phonons) has a long history. It was realized soon after the publication of the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory of superconductivity 50 years ago that a full treatment of both the charge and spin degrees of freedom of the electron predicts the existence of attractive components of the effective interaction between electrons even in the absence of lattice vibrations--a particular example is the effective interaction that depends on the relative spins of the electrons. Such attraction without phonons can lead to electronic pairing and to unconventional forms of superconductivity that can be much more sensitive than traditional (BCS) superconductivity to the precise details of the crystal structure and to the electronic and magnetic properties of a material.