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Issue 3, 2014
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Nano-scale mechanics of colloidal C–S–H gels

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Gels of calcium–silicate–hydrates (C–S–H) are the glue that is largely responsible for the mechanical properties of cement. Despite their practical relevance, their nano-scale structure and mechanics are still mainly unexplored, because of the difficulties in characterizing them in a complex material like cement. We propose a colloidal model to investigate the gel mechanics emerging in the critical range of length-scales from several tens to hundreds of nanometers. We show that the size polydispersity of the hydrates and size-dependent effective interactions can explain the mechanical heterogeneities detected in nano-indentation experiments. We also show how these features control the arising of irreversible structural rearrangements under deformation, which are good candidates as nano-scale mechanisms underlying mechanical aging and slow structural relaxation in the gels.

Graphical abstract: Nano-scale mechanics of colloidal C–S–H gels

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Article information

02 Jul 2013
28 Oct 2013
First published
01 Nov 2013

Soft Matter, 2014,10, 491-499
Article type

Nano-scale mechanics of colloidal C–S–H gels

E. Masoero, E. Del Gado, R. J.-M. Pellenq, S. Yip and F. Ulm, Soft Matter, 2014, 10, 491
DOI: 10.1039/C3SM51815A

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