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2016 News in Brief



Riddle of cement’s structure is finally solved

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PHOTO: This image of a simulated concrete sample shows the "packing fraction" which describes the fraction of the volume that is filled with solid material. In this case, the average packing fraction is 0.52. Colors indicate the variations within the sample, ranging from less than 0.4 to more than 0.64. The size of the cube is 0.6 microns (millionths of a meter).

Many fundamental questions about the microscopic structure and behavior of concrete have remained elusive – until now. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team with CEE collaborators has identified key factors in the structure of cement hydrate (CSH) that could help researchers work out better formulations for producing more durable concrete. “We did the first atomic-scale model” of the structure of concrete and addressed some of those remaining uncertainties about the larger structure, said co-author Roland Pellenq, senior research scientist and director of the MIT-CNRS lab. Read the story.