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Atomic-Scale Dynamic Fracture Observed in Stressed Materials
Until now, dynamic fracture of materials—the fragmentation of a material because of stress, such as during impact—has only been observed using bulk-scale techniques, such as measuring fragment speeds or forensically examining samples. Dynamic fracture at the atomic scale could only be studied using computer simulations, because the size range that could be observed in materials by experimental techniques was too narrow. However, this has changed with a new technique reported by an Osaka University-led team for directly observing dynamic fracture in metals.
The researchers have used a laser pump and X-ray probe to detect movement, such as stretching and compression, in the atomic structure of tantalum under high stress. Specifically, a laser produces a shock in a thin piece of tantalum, a metal used in alloys to increase their strength and corrosion resistance. The X-ray probe then measures the spacing of atoms in the opposite...