Assessing strain rate sensitivity of cement paste at the micro-scale through micro-cantilever testing

Yidong Gan*, Claudia Romero Rodriguez, Erik Schlangen, Klaas van Breugel, Branko Šavija

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
62 Downloads (Pure)


This study presents an experimental investigation of the rate-dependent mechanical properties of cement paste at the microscale. With the use of a nanoindenter, micro-cantilever beams with the size of 300 μm × 300 μm × 1650 μm were loaded at five different strain rates from around 10−6/s to 10−2/s until failure. It is found that with increasing strain rate, the stress-strain curves show less and delayed pre-peak nonlinearity. Both the flexural strength and the elastic modulus of beams increase with increasing strain rate, while the strain at peak stress exhibits an opposite trend. Examination of the fracture surface indicates that with increasing strain rate the possibility of a crack to pass through stronger components of the hydration products is increased. The experimental observations and possible mechanisms leading to changes in mechanical responses are discussed. It is suggested that at least two micromechanical processes, namely creep and Stéfan effect, are mainly responsible for the rate-dependent behaviour of cement paste within the investigated strain rate range and their dominances seem to vary with the strain rate. At lower strain rate, the strain rate sensitivity of cement paste is thought to be dominated by the creep effect, while at higher strain rate the Stéfan effect appears to be the governing factor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104084
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cement paste
  • Creep
  • Micro-cantilever bending
  • Strain rate sensitivity


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