Fracture properties of the alkali silicate gel using microscopic scratch testing

Caroline V. Johnson, Jiaxin Chen, Nicole P. Hasparyk, Paulo J.M. Monteiro, Ange Therese Akono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We carry out a multi-scale investigation of the fracture properties of the gel produced by the alkali-silica reaction in concrete. Milimeter-sized alkali gels are tested via scratch tests at the micrometer level. Scanning electron microscopy reveals curved fracture surfaces produced during the scratch test, warranting a fracture mechanics analysis. By application of a nonlinear fracture mechanics model to the recorded load and depth data, we estimate the fracture toughness of ASR gel to be Kc=0.62 MPam. In turn, by combining micro-indentation and scratch tests, we can estimate the fracture energy Gf=11.2 J/m2. These experimental results are important for the multi-scale modeling of the alkali-aggregate reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-75
Number of pages5
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Alkali-silica gel
  • Fracture toughness
  • Scratch test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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