Unconventional superconductivity in magic-angle graphene superlattices

Nature. 2018 Apr 5;556(7699):43-50. doi: 10.1038/nature26160. Epub 2018 Mar 5.


The behaviour of strongly correlated materials, and in particular unconventional superconductors, has been studied extensively for decades, but is still not well understood. This lack of theoretical understanding has motivated the development of experimental techniques for studying such behaviour, such as using ultracold atom lattices to simulate quantum materials. Here we report the realization of intrinsic unconventional superconductivity-which cannot be explained by weak electron-phonon interactions-in a two-dimensional superlattice created by stacking two sheets of graphene that are twisted relative to each other by a small angle. For twist angles of about 1.1°-the first 'magic' angle-the electronic band structure of this 'twisted bilayer graphene' exhibits flat bands near zero Fermi energy, resulting in correlated insulating states at half-filling. Upon electrostatic doping of the material away from these correlated insulating states, we observe tunable zero-resistance states with a critical temperature of up to 1.7 kelvin. The temperature-carrier-density phase diagram of twisted bilayer graphene is similar to that of copper oxides (or cuprates), and includes dome-shaped regions that correspond to superconductivity. Moreover, quantum oscillations in the longitudinal resistance of the material indicate the presence of small Fermi surfaces near the correlated insulating states, in analogy with underdoped cuprates. The relatively high superconducting critical temperature of twisted bilayer graphene, given such a small Fermi surface (which corresponds to a carrier density of about 1011 per square centimetre), puts it among the superconductors with the strongest pairing strength between electrons. Twisted bilayer graphene is a precisely tunable, purely carbon-based, two-dimensional superconductor. It is therefore an ideal material for investigations of strongly correlated phenomena, which could lead to insights into the physics of high-critical-temperature superconductors and quantum spin liquids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't