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Superconductivity from Magnetism

Research Area Materials Science
Principal Investigator(s) Alessandra Continenza
  • CNR - Università dell Aquila, Dipartimento di Fisica, L Aquila, Italy
  • Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Italy
  • University of Vienna, Austria
  • Max-Planck-Institut für Mikrostrukturphysik, Halle, Germany


The recent and unexpected discovery of iron-based superconductors brought a new revolution in condensed matter physics posing once more on the spot the interplay between magnetism and superconductivity. High-temperature superconductivity (above 50 K) was observed in many FeAs-based compounds and this renewed the search for novel superconductors suitable for large-scale applications. However, as usual in these contexts, many unanswered fundamental questions on the normal and superconducting phases of these materials hamper a full comprehension and the possibility to envisage a well determined route towards the discovery of new promising compounds.
A remarkable step forward in predicting superconductivity from first-principles has been achieved by the SuperConducting Density Functional Theory (SCDFT), able to describe on a fully ab-initio ground the properties of the superconducting phase of so called conventionalsuperconductors. The present project proposes a novel theoretical and computational approach to describe unconventional pairing mechanisms, as the mechanism of superconductivity in many superconductors is presently still unknown.
Our objective is twofold:
1) calculate the effective electronic pairing interaction from first-principles methods, taking into account all the details of the structural and electronic properties of real materials, and extend SCDFT so to include possible electron-only pairing mechanisms, such as charge- and spin-fluctuations
2) use this new computational facility to uncover the key role that structural, electronic and magnetic properties play in setting the critical temperature and to understand how these could be manipulated (e.g. through doping, substitutions, defects..) to design new materials for technological applications.
The theoretical/computational tool implemented will allow to predict superconductivity accounting for both electronic and phononic pairing mechanisms, both calculated on the basis of material specific properties, thus providing a complete description of superconductivity (critical temperature, gap symmetry, and many other experimental accessible quantities) based on fully ab-initio calculations.

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