Elucidating the nano-mechanical behavior of multi-component binders for ultra-high performance concrete

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12 Scopus citations


The nanomechanical signature of highly heterogeneous ultra-high performance (UHP) cement pastes are explored in this paper. The UHP pastes are proportioned using 30% or 50% (by mass) of commonly available cement replacement materials including fly ash, microsilica, and fine limestone. Nanoindentation experiments coupled with a Bayesian information criterion-based statistical approach is used to develop modulus-hardness (M−H) clusters for the UHP pastes. While typical low-density (LD) and high-density (HD) C-S-H phases are present in early-age UHP pastes, it is shown that an ultra-high stiffness (UHS) phase, which is a composite of HD C-S-H and nanoscale CH, is predominant at later ages. Nanoindentation data points to the presence of significantly higher proportions of mixed phases in the UHP pastes, comprising of cement hydrates/pozzolanic reaction products and unreacted phases including fine limestone and microsilica acting as micro-aggregates to enhance the stiffness of the paste. The presence of such mixed phases complicates upscaling of the elastic modulus using multi-scale homogenization models, which is to be carefully accounted for in such highly heterogeneous systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118214
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
StatePublished - May 20 2020


  • C-S-H
  • Heterogeneity
  • Homogenization
  • Nanoindentation
  • Ultra-high performance concrete

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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