Nanoscale origins of creep in calcium silicate hydrates

A Morshedifard and S Masoumi and MJA Qomi, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 9, 1785 (2018).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04174-z

The time-dependent response of structural materials dominates our aging infrastructure's life expectancy and has important resilience implications. For calcium-silicate-hydrates, the glue of cement, nanoscale mechanisms underlying time-dependent phenomena are complex and remain poorly understood. This complexity originates in part from the inherent difficulty in studying nanoscale longtime phenomena in atomistic simulations. Herein, we propose a three-staged incremental stress-marching technique to overcome such limitations. The first stage unravels a stretched exponential relaxation, which is ubiquitous in glassy systems. When fully relaxed, the material behaves viscoelastically upon further loading, which is described by the standard solid model. By progressively increasing the interlayer water, the time-dependent response of calcium-silicate-hydrates exhibits a transition from viscoelastic to logarithmic creep. These findings bridge the gap between atomistic simulations and nanomechanical experimental measurements and pave the way for the design of reduced aging construction materials and other disordered systems such as metallic and oxide glasses.

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