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Keywords:

  • nanocrystalline calcium silicate hydrate;
  • X-ray diffraction;
  • interstratification;
  • jennite;
  • tobermorite

X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns were calculated and compared to literature data with the aim of investigating the crystal structure of nanocrystalline calcium silicate hydrates (C-S-H), the main binding phase in hydrated Portland cement pastes. Published XRD patterns from C-S-H of Ca/Si ratios ranging from ∼ 0.6 to ∼ 1.7 are fully compatible with nanocrystalline and turbostratic tobermorite. Even at a ratio close or slightly higher than that of jennite (Ca/Si = 1.5) this latter mineral, which is required in some models to describe the structure of C-S-H, is not detected in the experimental XRD patterns. The 001 basal reflection from C-S-H, positioned at ∼ 13.5 Å when the C-S-H structural Ca/Si ratio is low (< 0.9), shifts towards smaller d values and sharpens with increasing Ca/Si ratio, to reach ∼ 11.2 Å when the Ca/Si ratio is higher than 1.5. Calculations indicate that the sharpening of the 001 reflection may be related to a crystallite size along c* (i.e. a mean number of stacked layers) increasing with the C-S-H Ca/Si ratio. Such an increase would contribute to the observed shift of the 001 reflection, but fails to quantitatively explain it. It is proposed that the observed shift could result from interstratification of at least two tobermorite-like layers, one having a high and the other a low Ca/Si ratio with a basal spacing of 11.3 and 14 Å, respectively.