Although there are a few isolated examples of excellent strength and ductility in single-phase metals with ultrafine grained (UFG) structures, the precise role of different microstructural features responsible for these results is not fully understood. Here, we demonstrate that a large fraction of high-angle grain boundaries and a low dislocation density may significantly improve the toughness and uniform elongation of UFG Cu by increasing its strain-hardening rate without any concomitant sacrifice in its yield strength. Our study provides a strategy for synthesizing tough UFG materials.

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