Cooling quasiparticles in A3C60 fullerides by excitonic mid-infrared absorption


April, 2017


A. Nava, C. Giannetti, A. Georges, E. Tosatti, and M. Fabrizio

Long after its discovery superconductivity in alkali fullerides A3C60 still challenges conventional wisdom. The freshest inroad in such ever-surprising physics is the behaviour under intense infrared (IR) excitation. Signatures attributable to a transient superconducting state extending up to temperatures ten times higher than the equilibrium T∼ 20 K have been discovered in K3C60 after ultra-short pulsed IR irradiation - an effect which still appears as remarkable as mysterious. Motivated by the observation that the phenomenon is observed in a broad pumping frequency range that coincides with the mid-infrared electronic absorption peak still of unclear origin, rather than to TO phonons as has been proposed, we advance here a radically new mechanism. First, we argue that this broad absorption peak represents a "super-exciton" involving the promotion of one electron from the t1u half-filled state to a higher-energy empty t1g state, dramatically lowered in energy by the large dipole-dipole interaction acting in conjunction with Jahn Teller effect within the enormously degenerate manifold of (t1u)2(t1g)1 states. Both long-lived and entropy-rich because they are triplets, the IR-induced excitons act as a sort of cooling mechanism that permits transient superconductive signals to persist up to much larger temperatures.