Concrete Microstructure Characterization and Performance
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Microstructural characteristics such as the interfacial transition zone (ITZ) and cracking patterns from compressive strength testing are main features that characterize concrete behavior. Certain materials such as blast furnace slag or fly ash introduced in the concrete mix aid in improving its strength and durability. Others such as nanosilica particles may affect only the microstructure of the paste without making any significant improvement in the strength of the ITZ or pasteaggregate bond. Additionally, in situ investigation of the microstructures of fresh cement paste can greatly enhance knowledge of the development properties of concrete at an early age (e.g., setting and hydration), which can be helpful for improvement of the quality of concrete. Common technologies such as Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) are currently employed in petrographic analysis of cementitious materials and concrete microstructure.