Recent research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley has produced nanocrystals that can reveal microscopic cracks and predict material failure. The four-armed nanocrystals were mixed within a polymer film and emit fluorescent light when their arms were twisted or bent under pressure. The fluorescent signature can be detected with a common portable spectrometer, which would allow workers to detect microscopic cracks in materials before they are majorly compromised. The study was recently published online in Nano Letters.

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