Transient effects of drying creep in nanoporous solids: Understanding the effects of nanoscale energy barriers

Robert Sinko, Matthieu Vandamme, Zdeněk P. Bažant, Sinan Keten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The Pickett effect is the phenomenon of creep enhancement during transient drying. It has been observed for many nanoporous solids, including concrete, wood and Kevlar. While the existing micromechanical models can partially explain this effect, they have yet to consider nanoscale dynamic effects of water in nanopores, which are believed to be of paramount importance. Here, we examine how creep deformations in a slit pore are accelerated by the motion of water due to drying forces using coarsegrained molecular dynamics simulations. We find that the drying that drives water flow in the nanopores lowers both the activation energy of pore walls sliding past one another and the apparent viscosity of confined water molecules. This lowering can be captured with an analytical Arrhenius relationship accounting for the role of water flow in overcoming the energy barriers. Notably, we use this model and simulation results to demonstrate that the drying creep strain is not linearly dependent on the applied creep stress at the nanopore level. Our findings establish the scaling relationships that explain how the creep driving force, drying force and fluid properties are related. Thus, we establish the nanoscale origins of the Pickett effect and provide strategies for minimizing the additional displacements arising from this effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20160490
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2191
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Concrete
  • Drying creep
  • Evanston
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Nanopores
  • Pickett effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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