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The crucial effect of early-stage gelation on the mechanical properties of cement hydrates.

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Ioannidou, Katerina 
Kanduč, Matej 
Li, Lunna 


Gelation and densification of calcium-silicate-hydrate take place during cement hydration. Both processes are crucial for the development of cement strength, and for the long-term evolution of concrete structures. However, the physicochemical environment evolves during cement formation, making it difficult to disentangle what factors are crucial for the mechanical properties. Here we use Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations to study a coarse-grained model of cement formation, and investigate the equilibrium and arrested states. We can correlate the various structures with the time evolution of the interactions between the nano-hydrates during the preparation of cement. The novel emerging picture is that the changes of the physicochemical environment, which dictate the evolution of the effective interactions, specifically favour the early gel formation and its continuous densification. Our observations help us understand how cement attains its unique strength and may help in the rational design of the properties of cement and related materials.



0905 Civil Engineering

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Nat Commun

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/I001352/1)
European Research Council (227758)
European Commission (234810)
This work was supported by the SNSF (Grants No. PP00P2 126483/1 and PP00P2 150738) and George town University, by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of P. R. China, ERC Advanced Grant 227758 (COLSTRUCTION), ITN grant 234810 (COMPLOIDS) and by EPSRC Programme Grant EP/I001352/1. KI thanks the French National Research Agency (ICoME2 Labex Project ANR-11-LABX- 0053 and A*MIDEX Project ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02) for support.