The effectiveness of condensed silica fume as a strength enhancing additive in concrete has been attributed to its ability to modify the interfacial zone between paste and aggregate. This paper describes a microstructural investigation of this interface using backscattered electron (bse) imaging combined with quantitative image analysis.
Composite specimens were made in which a single piece of aggregate was embedded in cement paste. Granite, dolomite and garnet aggregates were used. After curing, the specimens were sectioned perpendicular to the surface of the aggregate particles and polished. The variation in porosity, amount of anhydrous material and calcium hydroxide (CH), with distance from the aggregate surface was measured. It was found that the porosity increases in the paste close to the interface, while the content of anhydrous grains decreases. No significant increase in CH content was found near the interface.
The results confirm the applicability of the bse - image analysis technique, but indicate that the interfaces in specimens prepared in this manner may not be representative of aggregate paste interfaces in concrete.