Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Belated recognition for early work on superconducting organic charge transfer salts

In the mid-1990s, through the influence of Jim Brooks, I became interested in organic charge transfer salts. I read a very helpful paper by Kino and Fukuyama that considered a Hubbard model for the family kappa-(BEDT-TTF)2X. This led to me writing a review article and a short piece in Science, comparing the organics to the cuprates.

Aside: Being young and naive, and living before impact factor obsessions, I made the mistake of publishing the review in Comments on Condensed Matter,  which is not even listed on ISI Web of Science. I chose that journal because I knew it had published an influential review on heavy fermions by the stellar cast of Lee, Rice, Serene, Sham, and Wilkins.
Fortunately, I put the paper on the arXiv and a lot of people read it, and the Science paper often gets cited, by association.

The review stimulated a lot of work, particularly on the Hubbard model on the anisotropic triangular lattice at half filling, and the associated Heisenberg model for the Mott insulating phase. A recent review is here, with Ben Powell.

Only recently I became aware of some related work from around the same time that is never cited, literally.

κ-(BEDT-TTF)2X organics, as seen for Hubbardists 
V.A. Ivanov

Electronic structure and superconductivity of κ-(BEDT-TTF)2X salts
V. A. Ivanov, E. A. Ugolkova, M. E. Zhuravlev

The relevant Hubbard model, the importance of correlations, and the possibility of d-wave superconductivity are all discussed. These papers may not be as clear, or crisp, and comprehensive as my review but some of the key physics is there.
Ivanov should get credit for that.

What is the sociology here? Why was I influential but Ivanov was not?
Here may be some contributing factors.
I published the Perspective in Science, but back then not many physicists actually read it.
More importantly, I put my papers on the arXiv. Back then [pre-web] most people subscribed to and read the daily email listing recently posted papers. I timed my posting so my review would be the first of the daily list.
I followed up with more papers. I gave a lot of talks, both at conferences and universities around the world. I talked to experimentalists. I encouraged theorists to use their favourite technique to study the relevant Heisenberg and Hubbard models. I had postdocs work on the subject. They then went around talking about it.

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