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Thursday, 17 October 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies

Decoding cement’s shape promises greener concrete

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Scientists have developed "programmable” cement particles to attain enhanced properties of concrete. 

Mapping the morphogenesis of cement hydrates could lead to finer control of the microscopic shape of particles in stronger concrete. Source: Multiscale Materials Laboratory
Mapping the morphogenesis of cement hydrates could lead to finer control of the microscopic shape of particles in stronger concrete. Source: Multis...

As the most widely used synthetic material on the planet, concrete poses a serious societal concern regarding its significant environmental footprint. There is a global urgency to develop innovative strategies to develop greener concrete with improved strength and durability (to do more with less). In this context, reducing cement hydrate porosity via tuning the kinetics and morphology of its building blocks is highly desired but a fundamental challenge.

Improved mechanics

Herein, researchers at Rice University have proposed for the first time a unique pathway involving in-situ seed generation and subsequent controlled overgrowth, demonstrating the morphogenesis of cement hydrate ranging from cubic, rhombohedral, dendritic, to core-shell-like structures, which are all expressed in a single morphology diagram. Probing the mechanics of individual particles versus their assemblies at larger scales reveal that the low porosity attained by the formation of face-to-face close-packed cubic particles lead to significantly improved mechanics, opening up an entirely new phase space for bottom-up engineering of concrete while curbing its negative environmental impacts.

The study is published in: Journals of Materials Chemistry A.

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