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Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a way to make some notoriously brittle materials ductile – yet stronger than ever – simply by reducing their size.

The work, by Dongchan Jang, senior postdoctoral scholar, and Julia R. Greer, assistant professor of materials science and mechanics at Caltech, could eventually lead to the development of innovative, superstrong, yet light and damage-tolerant materials. These new materials could be used as components in structural applications, such as in lightweight aerospace vehicles that last longer under extreme environmental conditions and in naval vessels that are resistant to corrosion and wear. A paper about the work appears in the February 7 advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials.

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