Chromium at high pressures: Weak coupling and strong fluctuations in an itinerant antiferromagnet
The spin- and charge-density-wave order parameters of the itinerant antiferromagnet chromium are directly measured with nonresonant x-ray diffraction as the system is driven toward its quantum critical point with high pressure using a diamond anvil cell. The exponential decrease of the spin and charge diffraction intensities with pressure confirms the harmonic scaling of spin and charge, while the evolution of the incommensurate ordering vector provides important insight into the difference between pressure and chemical doping as means of driving quantum phase transitions. Measurement of the charge density wave over more than two orders of magnitude of diffraction intensity provides the clearest demonstration to date of a weakly coupled BCS-type ground state. Evidence for the coexistence of this weakly coupled ground state with high-energy excitations and pseudogap formation above the ordering temperature in chromium, the charge-ordered perovskite manganites, and the blue bronzes, among other such systems, raises fundamental questions about the distinctions between weak and strong coupling.