Alloy design based on single-principal-element systems has approached its limit for performance enhancements. A substantial increase in strength up to gigapascal levels typically causes the premature failure of materials with reduced ductility. Here, we report a strategy to break this trade-off by controllably introducing high-density ductile multicomponent intermetallic nanoparticles (MCINPs) in complex alloy systems. Distinct from the intermetallic-induced embrittlement under conventional wisdom, such MCINPstrengthened alloys exhibit superior strengths of 1.5 gigapascals and ductility as high as 50% in tension at ambient temperature. The plastic instability, a major concern for highstrength materials, can be completely eliminated by generating a distinctive multistage work-hardening behavior, resulting from pronounced dislocation activities and deformation-induced microbands. This MCINP strategy offers a paradigm to develop next-generation materials for structural applications.
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