From Da Vinci to Galileo to modern experimentalists a variety of characterization methods have been introduced for investigating the fracture of materials. However, determining fracture properties of materials at small length scales, with complex shapes, under extreme environmental conditions, is still extremely challenging. This gap is addressed by introducing two novel methods to investigate fracture in structural materials. The first one involves light for contactless mechanical testing, i.e., measurements without any physical contact between the user and the test specimen and testing device. This can, for example, help avoid the introduction of defects during manipulation of micro-sized brittle materials’ specimens, such as glass. The second method integrates experiments with data-driven approaches, enabling rapid deployment and reliable testing of materials with non-trivial shapes, thus overcoming the limitations of currently employed empirical solutions and finite element simulations. Such methods can be applied in emerging research areas and sectors from energy storage to transportation to advanced manufacturing, thus opening new opportunities for high-throughput, accurate, and reproducible fracture investigations under challenging conditions.