Intrinsic differences in atomic ordering of calcium (alumino)silicate hydrates in conventional and alkali-activated cements

Claire Emily White, Luke L. Daemen, Monika Hartl, Katharine Page

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69 Scopus citations


The atomic structures of calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H) and calcium (-sodium) aluminosilicate hydrate (C-(N)-A-S-H) gels, and their presence in conventional and blended cement systems, have been the topic of significant debate over recent decades. Previous investigations have revealed that synthetic C-S-H gel is nanocrystalline and due to the chemical similarities between ordinary Portland cement (OPC)-based systems and low-CO2 alkali-activated slags, researchers have inferred that the atomic ordering in alkali-activated slag is the same as in OPC-slag cements. Here, X-ray total scattering is used to determine the local bonding environment and nanostructure of C(-A)-S-H gels present in hydrated tricalcium silicate (C3S), blended C3S-slag and alkali-activated slag, revealing the large intrinsic differences in the extent of nanoscale ordering between C-S-H derived from C3S and alkali-activated slag systems, which may have a significant influence on thermodynamic stability, and material properties at higher length scales, including long term durability of alkali-activated cements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-73
Number of pages8
JournalCement and Concrete Research
StatePublished - Jan 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


  • Alkali-activated cement
  • Amorphous material (B)
  • Calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) (B)
  • Portland cement (D)
  • X-ray diffraction (B)


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