Calcium silicate hydrate
Calcium silicate hydrate (or C-S-H) is the main product of the hydration of Portland cement and is primarily responsible for the strength in cement based materials.
Calcium silicate hydrate (also shown as C-S-H) is a result of the reaction between the silicate phases of Portland cement and water. This reaction typically is expressed as:
Synthetic C-S-H can be prepared from the reaction of CaO and SiO2 in water or through the double precipitation method using various salts. These methods provide the flexibility of producing C-S-H at specific C/S (Ca/Si, or CaO/SiO2) ratios. The C-S-H from cement phases can also be treated with an ammonium nitrate solution in order to induce calcium leaching, and so to achieve a given C/S ratio.
C-S-H is a nano sized material with some degree of crystallinity as observed by X-ray diffraction techniques. The underlying atomic structure of C-S-H is similar to the naturally occurring mineral tobermorite. It has a layered geometry with calcium silicate sheet structure separated by an interlayer space. The silicates in C-S-H exist as dimers, pentamers and 3n-1 chain units  (where n is an integer greater than 0) and calcium ions are found to connect these chains making the three dimensional nano structure as observed by dynamic nuclear polarisation surface-enhanced nuclear magnetic resonance. The exact nature of the interlayer remains unknown. One of the greatest difficulties in characterising C-S-H is due to its variable stoichiometry.
The SEM micrographs of C-S-H does not show any specific crystalline form. They usually manifest as foils or needle/oriented foils.
Synthetic C-S-H can be divided in two categories separated at the Ca/Si ratio of about 1.1. There are several indications that the chemical, physical and mechanical characteristics of C-S-H varies noticeably between these two categories.
- Other C-S-H minerals:
- Other calcium aluminium silicate hydrate, (C-A-S-H) minerals:
- Mechanisms of formation of C-S-H phases:
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