Multi-scale investigation on mechanical behavior and microstructural alteration of C-S-H in carbonated Alite paste

Bao Jian Zhan, Dong Xing Xuan, Chi Sun Poon, Karen L. Scrivener

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Carbonation treatment is a promising option to enhance recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) quality and eventually improve concrete performance. This study investigated the multi-scale mechanical properties of calcium silicate hydrates (C-S-H) in a mature alite paste subjected to accelerated carbonation treatment by testing macro compressive strength, microhardness and nanoindentation. The results show that, carbonation treatment resulted in a heterogeneous distribution of carbonation products in the alite sample. Reinforcement of C-S-H by the randomly precipitated calcite and vaterite crystals prevailed over the nano-structural and compositional alteration of C-S-H induced by carbonation, leading to an increase of nano-indentation modulus at the edge of the sample. Also, the microhardness at the edge zone was markedly higher than that at the core of the carbonated sample. The carbonated peripheral zone with improved nano-scale modulus and microhardness was likely serving as a “hard shell”, contributing to the improved macro compressive strength. The new insights into the multi-scale mechanical properties of carbonated C-S-H contribute to further understanding of the enhanced properties of RCA after carbonation treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106448
JournalCement and Concrete Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • C-S-H
  • Carbonation
  • Compressive strength
  • Microhardness
  • Nanoindentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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