On the use of peak-force tapping atomic force microscopy for quantification of the local elastic modulus in hardened cement paste

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September 2011, PageTo


A surface of epoxy-impregnated hardened cement paste was investigated using a novel atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging mode that allows for the quantitative mapping of the local elastic modulus. The analyzed surface was previously prepared using focussed ion beam milling. The same surface was also characterized by electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy.

We demonstrate the capability of this quantitative nanomechanical mapping to provide information on the local distribution of the elastic modulus (from about 1 to about 100GPa) with a spatial resolution in the range of decananometers, that corresponds to that of low-keV back-scattered electron imaging. Despite some surface roughness which affects the measured nanomechanical properties it is shown that topography, adhesion and Young's modulus can be clearly distinguished.

The quantitative mapping of the local elastic modulus is able to discriminate between phases in the cement paste microstructure that cannot be distinguished from the corresponding back-scattered electron images.

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doi: 10.1016/j.cemconres.2011.08.009