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  1. Abstract

    Material objects with micrometer or nanometer dimensions can exhibit much higher strength than macroscopic objects, but this strength rarely approaches the maximum theoretical strength of the material. Here, we demonstrate that faceted single-crystalline nickel (Ni) nanoparticles exhibit an ultrahigh compressive strength (up to 34 GPa) unprecedented for metallic materials. This strength matches the available estimates of Ni theoretical strength. Three factors are responsible for this record-high strength: the large Ni shear modulus, the smooth edges and corners of the nanoparticles, and the thin oxide layer on the particle surface. This finding is supported by molecular dynamics simulations that closely mimic the experimental conditions, which show that the mechanical failure of the strongest particles is triggered by homogeneous nucleation of dislocation loops inside the particle. The nucleation of a stable loop is preceded by multiple nucleation attempts accompanied by unusually large local atomic displacements caused by thermal fluctuations.

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