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Early age microstructure of the paste-aggregate interface and its evolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2011

Davide Zampini
Affiliation:
Department of Civil Engineering, NSF Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208
Surendra P. Shah
Affiliation:
Department of Civil Engineering, NSF Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208
Hamlin M. Jennings
Affiliation:
Department of Civil Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, NSF Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208
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The sequence of microstructural changes occurring at the wet paste-aggregate interface is documented at an age as early as 5 min using the environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM). Unlike other microscopic techniques, the ESEM allows pastes of normal water: cement ratio to be observed at early ages without reducing the paste to a powder. Evolution of the paste-aggregate microstructure is followed up to an age of 24 h. The region adjacent to the aggregate surface contains a phase with a morphology referred to as a “sheaf of wheat” morphology. The same interfacial region in a 10-day-old specimen has a microstructure similar to the interfacial transition zone (ITZ) reported in the literature. Variations of the “sheaf of wheat” morphology due to original water-to-cement ratio, mixing energy, incorporation of silica fume, and drying are documented. As revealed by energy dispersive x-ray analysis (EDS), the microstructure contains significant amounts of calcium and silica. These results indicate that the observed morphology is likely to be a calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H) product that is a precursor to type I C-S-H. A description of the evolution of the observed microstructural features is presented. The “sheaf of wheat” morphology appears to be a general precursor to morphologies commonly seen in mature pastes.

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Copyright © Materials Research Society 1998

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