Tailoring cement and concrete materials based on nano-core effect


The use of cementitious composite materials for infrastructure building and construction has significantly increased globally owing to their excellent properties, low cost and availability. For instance, it forms more than two-thirds of the building materials worldwide. Going with the current trends, the use of cementitious composites in construction and building industries is expected to escalate further. As such, an efficient technique to address the current challenges associated with the development of cementitious materials is highly required. The problems are drawn from the impact on the environment, energy consumption, complexity as well as durability. Consequently, the need for strong, durable, and smart/multifunctional cementitious composites to replace the traditional ones would be ideal for meeting the safety, durability and function requirements.

Recent studies have shown that the penetration of nanotechnology in the development of cementitious composites signifies a landmark in enhancing their overall properties, performances and multi-functionalities. Alternatively, various nanocarbon materials including graphene, carbon nanofibers and carbon nanotubes are also promising materials in enhancing the performances of cementitious composites. Unfortunately, despite a lot of emphasis on the behavior of cementitious materials based incorporated with nanofillers, efficient modification of the nanofillers and its effects on the performance of the cementitious composites have not been fully explored.

To this note, a group of Dalian University of Technology researchers led by Professor Baoguo Han proposed a mechanism for investigating, controlling and understanding the nano-engineered cementitious composites. Specifically, they developed a nano-core effect by integrating the nano effect and core effects. By using different nanofillers, they experimentally proved the nano-core induced effects on the performances of the cementitious composites. Their research work is currently published in the research journal, Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing.

In brief, the research team first cross-examined the possibility of enhancing the performance of cementitious composites through various modification of the nanofillers. Secondly, they analyzed various factors affecting the nano-core effects and their corresponding effects on the cementitious composites. To actualize their study, they further proposed nano-core effect zone concept to understand the relationship between the behaviors of the nano-engineered cementitious composites and the nano-core effects.

The authors observed that the addition of nanofillers enhanced the mechanical properties, durability, and functionality of the cementitious composites. This was attributed to the capability of the nano-effect zone to govern the properties and behaviors of the nano-engineered cementitious composites due to the close relationship between the nano-core effects and the nanofiller properties and develop procedure for cementitious composites. Furthermore, it was worth noting that the nano effect was as a result of the small high surface area and small size of the nanofillers while the core related effects were a result of the bonding, intrinsic and nucleating effects.

In summary, the Baoguo Han and colleagues study successfully demonstrated the feasibility of using the nano-core effects for understanding and controlling the nano-engineered cementitious composites. In general, it enabled prediction and controlling of cementitious composites properties from nano-scale to micro-macro scale. Therefore, the study will advance the design and fabrication of high-performance cementitious composites for different applications.

Tailoring cement and concrete materials based on nano-core effect - Advances in Engineering

About the author

Baoguo Han received his PhD in the field of smart materials and structures from the Harbin Institute of Technology, China, in 2005. He is currently a professor of civil engineering in the Dalian University of Technology, China. His main research interests include cement and concrete materials, smart materials and structures, multifunctional composites, nanotechnology, sensing technology, and structural health monitoring and traffic detection.

He is a member of the editorial board of five international journals and has published 3 books (Self-Sensing Concrete in Smart Structures, Elsevier 2014; Smart and Multifunctional Concrete toward Sustainable Infrastructures, Springer 2017; Nano-Engineered Cementitious Composites: Principles and Practices, Springer 2019), 12 book chapters and more than 150 technical papers. He has hold more than 10 authorized national invention patents. He was invited to the University of Minnesota and has worked as a visiting research scholar there for 3 years. He was also awarded the New Century Excellent Talents in University and the First Prize of Natural Science by the Ministry of Education of China.

Researchgate, GoogleScholar

About the author

Liqing Zhang received her PhD in the field of multifunctional concrete and structures from the Dalian University of Technology, China, in 2018. She is currently a lecturer of civil engineering in the East China Jiaotong University, China. Her main research interests include high performance cement and concrete materials, multifunctional/smart concrete, nanotechnology, sensing technology and structural health monitoring.

She a member of International Association of Advanced Materials and has published 1 book (Smart and Multifunctional Concrete toward Sustainable Infrastructures, Springer 2017), 4 book chapter and 18 papers in reputable journals such as Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, Construction and Building Materials and Archives of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and hold 4 authorized national invention patents. She has received more than 5 external research fundings as the PI or Co-PIs from such funding agencies as the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Education Ministry of China and Department of Education of Jiangxi Province.


Han, B., Zhang, L., Zeng, S., Dong, S., Yu, X., Yang, R., & Ou, J. (2017). Nano-core effect in nano-engineered cementitious composites. Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, 95, 100-109.

Go To Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing

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