Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Superconductivity gets an iron boost



Superconductivity, the resistance-free flow of electrical charges, is one of the most exotic phenomena in solid-state physics. Even though it was discovered almost a century ago, many questions remain unanswered, in particular those concerning the physics of high-temperature superconductivity. The recent discovery of iron-based superconductors was arguably the most important breakthrough in this field for more than two decades and may provide new avenues for understanding this high-temperature phenomenon. Here I present my view of the recent developments in this field that have led to the current understanding of this important new class of superconductor.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Iron-based superconductors and copper-oxide-based superconductors.
Figure 2: Superconducting order parameter.
Figure 3: A typical calculated Fermi surface of an iron-pnictide superconductor.


  1. Pickett, W. E. The other high-temperature superconductors. Physica B 296, 112–119 (2001).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Mazin, I. I. Vitaly Ginzburg and high temperature superconductivity: personal reminiscences. Physica C 468, 105–110 (2008).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Kamihara, Y., Watanabe, T., Hirano, M. & Hosono, H. Iron-based layered superconductor La[O1−x F x ]FeAs (x = 0.05−0.12) with T c = 26 K. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130, 3296–3297 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Mazin, I. I. & Antropov, V. P. Electronic structure, electron–phonon coupling, and multiband effects in MgB2 . Physica C 385, 49–65 (2003).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Mazin, I. I., Singh, D. J., Johannes, M. D. & Du, M. H. Unconventional sign-reversing superconductivity in LaFeAsO1−x F x . Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 057003 (2008).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Kuroki, K. et al. Unconventional superconductivity originating from disconnected Fermi surfaces in LaO1−x F x FeAs. Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 087004 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Mazin, I. I. & Schmalian, J. Pairing symmetry and pairing state in ferropnictides: theoretical overview. Physica C 469, 614–627 (2009).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Lee, P. A., Nagaosa, N. & Wen, X. G. Doping a Mott insulator: physics of high-temperature superconductivity. Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 17–85 (2006).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Chu, P. C. W. et al. (eds) Superconductivity in iron-pnictides. Physica C 469 (special issue), 313–674 (2009).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Anisimov, V. I., Kurmaev, E. Z., Moewes, A. & Izyumov, I. A. Strength of correlations in pnictides and its assessment by theoretical calculations and spectroscopy experiments. Physica C 469, 442–447 (2009).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Yang, W. L. et al. Evidence for weak electronic correlations in iron pnictides. Phys. Rev. B 80, 014508 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Lee, C.-H. et al. Effect of structural parameters on superconductivity in fluorine-free LnFeAsO1−y (Ln = La, Nd). J. Phys. Soc. Jpn 77, 083704 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. Hosono, H., Matsuishi, S., Nomura, T. & Hiramatsu, H. Iron-based superconducting materials. Bull. Phys. Soc. Jpn 64, 807 (2009).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Scalapino, D. J. Superconductivity and spin fluctuations. J. Low Temp. Phys. 117, 179–188 (1999).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Van Harlingen, D. J. Phase-sensitive tests of the symmetry of the pairing state in the high-temperature superconductors — evidence for d x 2 - y 2 symmetry. Rev. Mod. Phys. 67, 515–535 (1995).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


I dedicate this article to the memory of Vitaly Ginzburg, a relentless enthusiast of high-temperature superconductivity and my former teacher, who passed away while this article was being written.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interest

Additional information

Reprints and permissions information is available at Correspondence should be addressed to the author (

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mazin, I. Superconductivity gets an iron boost. Nature 464, 183–186 (2010).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing