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Toughness describes the ability of a material to resist fracture or crack propagation. It is demonstrated here that fracture toughness of a material can be asymmetric, i.e., the resistance of amedium to a crack propagating from right to left can be significantly different from that to a crack propagating from left to right. Such asymmetry is unknown in natural materials, but we show that it can be built into artificial materials through the proper control of microstructure. This paves the way for control of crack paths and direction, where fracture - when unavoidable - can be guidedthrough predesigned paths to minimize loss of critical components.

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Physical Review Letters