Scientists have created perhaps the most detailed view of the rust formation process yet, according to a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rust can be a menace, leading to corrosion and weakening the strength of anything made with iron or steel.

Rust has caused many deadly disasters, from bridge collapses to oil spills.

“How atoms are physically attaching onto the rust isn’t well known,” Sandra Taylor, postdoctoral researcher at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, told Gizmodo.

The researchers created microscopic rods out of goethite, a key mineral component of rust, and reacted them with water dissolved with iron atoms.

Some of these dissolved iron atoms had an extra neutron in their nucleus, allowing the scientists to keep better track of how they attached to and entered the nanorods.

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