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Issue 40, 2019
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Unconventional superconductivity in 3d rocksalt transition metal carbides

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Through calculation and analysis of electronic structure and lattice dynamics in 3d transition metal carbides, we identify MnC as a novel compound displaying unconventional superconductivity. Though unstable in the absence of applied pressure at 0 K, MnC may be stabilized above 300 K or 13 GPa due to enhanced t2g orbital overlap or phonon–phonon interactions respectively. In the resulting structure, which adopts a ferromagnetic configuration with magnetization of 1.55 μB per Mn, we predict superconductivity occurring below a critical temperature of 16.2 K. Further investigation reveals this unconventional superconductivity derives from phonon-mediated minority-spin-triplet Cooper pairs, for which competing magnetic order is also suggested to play a role. Consideration of all 3d transition metal carbides yields a holistic explanation of trends in stability and superconductivity. Two unique cases are predicted: (i) FeC, with a critical temperature of 4.0 K, may be stabilized by temperature or pressure, whereas (ii) ZnC, with a high critical temperature of 27.8 K, remains stable at 0 K owing to complete filling and strong localization of its 3d shell. The findings here contribute to the understanding of factors influencing superconductivity, hence forming a basis on which a materials-by-design approach may be utilized for next-generation applications such as spintronic devices.

Graphical abstract: Unconventional superconductivity in 3d rocksalt transition metal carbides

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The article was received on 13 Jul 2019, accepted on 20 Sep 2019 and first published on 23 Sep 2019

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C9TC03793D
J. Mater. Chem. C, 2019,7, 12619-12632

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    Unconventional superconductivity in 3d rocksalt transition metal carbides

    N. J. Szymanski, I. Khatri, J. G. Amar, D. Gall and S. V. Khare, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2019, 7, 12619
    DOI: 10.1039/C9TC03793D

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