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September 11th, 2003

Slipping and sliding

Metals consisting of a mosaic of nanoscale crystalline grains may get harder and less ductile as the grains get smaller. But there is some evidence that this hardening declines or perhaps even reverses for very small grains. Investigating such effects, and their causes, is experimentally difficult, but Jakob Schiøtz and Karsten Jacobsen of the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby have now cast light on the issue through massive computer simulations of nanocrystalline metals containing over 100 million atoms.

* Nature

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