Nature is rich with examples of phenomena and environments we might consider extreme, at least from our familiar experience on Earth’s surface: large fluxes of radiation and particles from the Sun, explosive asteroid collisions in space, volcanic eruptions that originate deep underground, extraordinary pressures and temperatures in the interiors of planets and stars, and electromagnetic discharges that occur, say, in sunspots and pulsars. We often intentionally create similar extreme environments—for example, in high-powered lasers, high-temperature turbines, internal-combustion engines, and industrial chemical plants. The response of materials to the broad range of such environments signals the materials’ underlying structure and dynamics, provides insight into new phenomena, exposes failure modes that limit technological possibility, and presents novel routes for making new materials. 1  

Indeed, exposing materials to those regimes induces new physical phenomena that do not occur under ordinary conditions. Those extreme phenomena are central to many of the most fascinating grand...

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