Fracture toughness of one- and two-dimensional nanoreinforced cement via scratch testing

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Cement is the most widely consumed material globally, with the cement industry accounting for 8% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Aiming for cement composites with a reduced carbon footprint, this study investigates the potential of nanomaterials to improve mechanical characteristics. An important question is to increase the fraction of carbon-based nanomaterials within cement matrices while controlling the microstructure and enhancing the mechanical performance. Specifically, this study investigates the fracture response of Portland cement reinforced with one- and two-dimensional carbon-based nanomaterials, such as carbon nanofibres, multiwalled carbon nanotubes, helical carbon nanotubes and graphene oxide nanoplatelets. Novel processing routes are shown to incorporate 0.1-0.5 wt% of nanomaterials into cement using a quadratic distribution of ultrasonic energy. Scratch testing is used to probe the fracture response by pushing a sphero-conical probe against the surface of the material under a linearly increasing vertical force. Fracture toughness is then computed using a nonlinear fracture mechanics model. Nanomaterials are shown to bridge nanoscale air voids, leading to pore refinement, and a decrease in the porosity and the water absorption. An improvement in fracture toughness is observed in cement nanocomposites, with a positive correlation between the fracture toughness and the mass fraction of nanofiller for graphene-reinforced cement. Moreover, for graphene-reinforced cement, the fracture toughness values are in the range of 0.701 to 0.717 MPa[Formula: see text]. Thus, this study illustrates the potential of nanomaterials to toughen cement while improving the microstructure and water resistance properties. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'A cracking approach to inventing new tough materials: fracture stranger than friction'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences
Issue number2203
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jun 21 2021


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