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

Ange Therese Akono*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


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 MPam. 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)
Article number20200288
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2203
StatePublished - Aug 9 2021


  • carbon nanofibres
  • carbon nanotubes
  • cement
  • fracture toughness
  • graphene nanoplatelets
  • scratch tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Fracture toughness of one- And two-dimensional nanoreinforced cement via scratch testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this