Cement-based materials characterization at nanoscale: Nanoindentation and ultrasonic Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Jae Hong Kim, Paramita Mondal, Surendra P Shah

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Characterizing mechanical properties of cement-based materials is a basic task to be performed before using it as a structural material. An array of different mechanical tests has been developed and applied to measure the stiffness or strength of materials. A recent addition to this field concerns nano-mechanical characterization. It is an extension of our interests: how rigid is a certain volume of materials in nanoscale space? Measuring the properties of interfacial transition zone (ITZ) locating between an inert aggregate and bulk paste is a key application example for nanoscale characterization. In order to measure the properties of ITZ, spatial resolution should be enhanced less than the size of ITZ (a few tens of micrometers), while the compressive strength test, a conventional macroscale measurement, usually uses a specimen of 150 mm diameter 300 mm height (6 in by 12 in) cylinder. This paper discusses two nanoscale techniques, that is, nanoindentation and ultrasonic atomic force microscopy (AFM) used at the center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials (ACBM). The principle of both techniques measuring the elastic modulus at the nanoscale is clarified with an application to a cement paste sample having 50% water-binder ratio. The measurements by both techniques are not exactly the same due to their different mechanism. However, both techniques identically find that the peak probability of the measured elastic modulus of the cement paste is distributed between 10 and 20 GPa (1450 and 2900 ksi).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in the Material Science of Concrete - Session at the ACI Spring 2010 Convention
Number of pages9
Edition270 SP
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
EventACI Spring 2010 Convention - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Mar 21 2010Mar 25 2010


OtherACI Spring 2010 Convention
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago, IL


  • Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
  • Cement paste
  • Contact stiffness
  • Elastic modulus
  • Nanomechanics
  • Scanning probe microscopy (SPM)
  • Spatial resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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