Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Strategic control of atomic-scale defects for tuning properties in metals

Advanced metallic alloys can benefit from clusters of dopant atoms and intermetallic particles to improve their performance. Suhas Eswarappa Prameela, Peng Yi, Michael Falk and Tim Weihs discuss how atomic-scale defects can be used to form these clusters and particles.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Atomic-scale defects.


  1. Sun, W. et al. Precipitation strengthening of aluminum alloys by room-temperature cyclic plasticity. Science 363, 972–975 (2019).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Nie, J. F., Zhu, Y. M., Liu, J. Z. & Fang, X. Y. Periodic segregation of solute atoms in fully coherent twin boundaries. Science 340, 957–960 (2013).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Yang, Z. et al. Precipitation of binary quasicrystals along dislocations. Nat. Commun. 9, 809 (2018).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Prameela, S. E. et al. Deformation assisted nucleation of continuous nanoprecipitates in Mg-Al alloys. Materialia 9, 100583 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Peng, S., Wei, Y. & Gao, H. Nanoscale precipitates as sustainable dislocation sources for enhanced ductility and high strength. PNAS 117, 5204–5209 (2020).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Kuzmina, M., Herbig, M., Ponge, D., Sandlöbes, S. & Raabe, D. Linear complexions: confined chemical and structural states at dislocations. Science 349, 1080–1083 (2015).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Titus, M. S. et al. Solute segregation and deviation from bulk thermodynamics at nanoscale crystalline defects. Sci. Adv. 2, e1601796 (2016).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Katnagallu, S. et al. Imaging individual solute atoms at crystalline imperfections in metals. New J. Phys. 21, 123020 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Knaster, J., Moeslang, A. & Muroga, T. Materials research for fusion. Nat. Phys. 12, 424–434 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Kalidindi, S. R. Feature engineering of material structure for AI-based materials knowledge systems. J. Appl. Phys. 128, 041103 (2020).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors would like to acknowledge financial support from CCDC Army Research Laboratory, cooperative agreement number W911NF- 12-2-0022 for the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Consortium. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the CCDC Army Research Laboratory or the U.S. Government.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Suhas Eswarappa Prameela.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Eswarappa Prameela, S., Yi, P., Falk, M.L. et al. Strategic control of atomic-scale defects for tuning properties in metals. Nat Rev Phys 3, 148–149 (2021).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing