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Effects of highly dispersed nano-SiO2 on the microstructure development of cement pastes

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The agglomeration of nano particles in cement systems remains a major challenge for their wide use in construction materials. A method of preparing highly dispersed nano-SiO2 in cement paste is introduced in this paper, and the effects of modified nano-SiO2 (SiO2@PCE) with a core–shell structure on cement hydration and microstructure development were investigated by isothermal calorimetry, quantitative X-ray diffraction, thermogravimetric analysis, scanning electron microscopy and nanoindentation. The results show that well-dispersed nano-SiO2@PCE particles in a cement system can significantly accelerate cement hydration at an early age. The highly dispersed nano-SiO2@PCE particles refine the pore structure of the hardened cement paste. More specifically, the number of harmless and less-harmless pores is increased, whereas the number of harmful and more-harmful pores is reduced. In addition, the proportion of high-density C–S–H and low-density C–S–H in the hardened cement paste at an early age increases by 69% and decreases by 27%, respectively, with the addition of 1.5% nano-SiO2@PCE. Through the seeding effect, cement hydration is accelerated pronouncedly with the addition of highly dispersed SiO2@PCE nano particles. In addition, the stiffness of the paste is enhanced by the pozzolanic reaction between SiO2@PCE and portlandite.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51890904, 1706222 and 51708108), National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (No. 2015CB655102), and State Key Laboratory of High Performance Civil Engineering Materials Open Fund (No. 2018CEM001).

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Correspondence to Pan Feng.

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Liu, X., Feng, P., Shu, X. et al. Effects of highly dispersed nano-SiO2 on the microstructure development of cement pastes. Mater Struct 53, 4 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1617/s11527-019-1431-0

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  • Seeding effect
  • Pozzolanic effect
  • Nano-SiO2
  • Dispersion
  • Cement