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Embrittlement is a loss of ductility of a material, making it brittle. Various materials have different mechanisms of embrittlement.

  • Metal-induced embrittlement (MIE) is the embrittlement caused by diffusion of atoms of metal, either solid or liquid, into the material.
  • The primary embrittlement mechanism of plastics is gradual loss of plasticizers, usually by overheating or aging.
  • The primary embrittlement mechanism of asphalt is by oxidation, which is most severe in warmer climates. Asphalt pavement embrittlement can lead to various forms of cracking patterns, including longitudinal, transverse, and block (hexagonal). Asphalt oxidation is related to polymer degradation, as these materials bear similarities in their chemical composition.

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