Tracing Polymerization in Calcium Silicate Hydrates Using Si Isotopic Fractionation
Dupuis, Romain ; Jorge Dolado ; Jose Surga ; Andres Ayuela
Silicate-chains polymerization is a crucial process in calcium silicate hydrate minerals, with large relevance for improving the durability and reducing the environmental impact of cement-based materials. To better understand the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the polymerization of silicate-chains in layered calcium silicate hydrates, we herein propose to trace the evolution of the polymerization degree by using silicon isotopes. The method requires tabulating the isotopic fractionation of several basic chemico–physical mechanisms that we obtained by performing atomistic simulations. The calculations reveal that the highly polymerized structures have longer Si–O bonds and that the Ca2+ cations play a dual role in the stretching and bending mode properties of silicates, such as isotopic fractionation is able to discern not only between the polymerization order of calcium silicate hydrate minerals, but even between cement gels suffering calcium leaching. Silicon isotopic fractionation can, therefore, be used to quantify the different evolutions of calcium silicon hydrate phases in a sample of man-made gel cement in order to improve its sustainability along lifetime stages in the quest for green cement.
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