Polymorphism control of superconductivity and magnetism in Cs(3)C(60) close to the Mott transition

Nature. 2010 Jul 8;466(7303):221-5. doi: 10.1038/nature09120. Epub 2010 May 19.


The crystal structure of a solid controls the interactions between the electronically active units and thus its electronic properties. In the high-temperature superconducting copper oxides, only one spatial arrangement of the electronically active Cu(2+) units-a two-dimensional square lattice-is available to study the competition between the cooperative electronic states of magnetic order and superconductivity. Crystals of the spherical molecular C(60)(3-) anion support both superconductivity and magnetism but can consist of fundamentally distinct three-dimensional arrangements of the anions. Superconductivity in the A(3)C(60) (A = alkali metal) fullerides has been exclusively associated with face-centred cubic (f.c.c.) packing of C(60)(3-) (refs 2, 3), but recently the most expanded (and thus having the highest superconducting transition temperature, T(c); ref. 4) composition Cs(3)C(60) has been isolated as a body-centred cubic (b.c.c.) packing, which supports both superconductivity and magnetic order. Here we isolate the f.c.c. polymorph of Cs(3)C(60) to show how the spatial arrangement of the electronically active units controls the competing superconducting and magnetic electronic ground states. Unlike all the other f.c.c. A(3)C(60) fullerides, f.c.c. Cs(3)C(60) is not a superconductor but a magnetic insulator at ambient pressure, and becomes superconducting under pressure. The magnetic ordering occurs at an order of magnitude lower temperature in the geometrically frustrated f.c.c. polymorph (Néel temperature T(N) = 2.2 K) than in the b.c.c.-based packing (T(N) = 46 K). The different lattice packings of C(60)(3-) change T(c) from 38 K in b.c.c. Cs(3)C(60) to 35 K in f.c.c. Cs(3)C(60) (the highest found in the f.c.c. A(3)C(60) family). The existence of two superconducting packings of the same electronically active unit reveals that T(c) scales universally in a structure-independent dome-like relationship with proximity to the Mott metal-insulator transition, which is governed by the role of electron correlations characteristic of high-temperature superconducting materials other than fullerides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't