Micro- and nano-scale characterization to study the thermal degradation of cement-based materials

Seungmin Lim, Paramita Mondal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The degradation of hydration products of cement is known to cause changes in the micro- and nano-structure, which ultimately drive thermo-mechanical degradation of cement-based composite materials at elevated temperatures. However, a detailed characterization of these changes is still incomplete. This paper presents results of an extensive experimental study carried out to investigate micro- and nano-structural changes that occur due to exposure of cement paste to high temperatures. Following heat treatment of cement paste up to 1000 C, damage states were studied by compressive strength test, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) atomic force microscopy (AFM) and AFM image analysis. Using experimental results and research from existing literature, new degradation processes that drive the loss of mechanical properties of cement paste are proposed. The development of micro-cracks at the interface between unhydrated cement particles and paste matrix, a change in C-S-H nano-structure and shrinkage of C-S-H, are considered as important factors that cause the thermal degradation of cement paste.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials Characterization
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
  • Cement paste
  • High temperature exposure
  • Image analysis
  • Nano-structure
  • Shrinkage of C-S-H

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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