Chemistry:Calcium silicate hydrate

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Short description: Main product of the hydration of Portland cement

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:

2 Ca
+ 7 H
O → 3 CaO · 2 SiO
· 4 H
O + 3 Ca(OH)
+ 173.6 kJ

The stoichiometry of C-S-H in cement paste is variable and the state of chemically and physically bound water in its structure is not transparent, which is why "-" is used between C, S, and H.[1]

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[2][3] with some degree of crystallinity as observed by X-ray diffraction techniques.[4] The underlying atomic structure of C-S-H is similar to the naturally occurring mineral tobermorite.[5] 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 [6][7] (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.[8] 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.[9][10]

See also

  • Other C-S-H minerals:
  • Other calcium aluminium silicate hydrate, (C-A-S-H) minerals:
  • Mechanisms of formation of C-S-H phases:
    • Alkali silica reaction
    • Alkali-aggregate reaction
    • Energetically modified cement
    • Pozzolanic reaction


  1. "Portland Cement Hydration". 
  2. Allen, Andrew J.; Thomas, Jeffrey J.; Jennings, Hamlin M. (25 March 2007). "Composition and density of nanoscale calcium–silicate–hydrate in cement". Nature Materials 6 (4): 311–316. doi:10.1038/nmat1871. PMID 17384634. Bibcode2007NatMa...6..311A. 
  3. Andalibi, M. Reza; Kumar, Abhishek; Srinivasan, Bhuvanesh; Bowen, Paul; Scrivener, Karen; Ludwig, Christian; Testino, Andrea (2018). "On the mesoscale mechanism of synthetic calcium–silicate–hydrate precipitation: a population balance modeling approach" (in en). Journal of Materials Chemistry A 6 (2): 363–373. doi:10.1039/C7TA08784E. ISSN 2050-7488. 
  4. Renaudin, Guillaume; Russias, Julie; Leroux, Fabrice; Frizon, Fabien; Cau-dit-Coumes, Céline (December 2009). "Structural characterization of C–S–H and C–A–S–H samples—Part I: Long-range order investigated by Rietveld analyses". Journal of Solid State Chemistry 182 (12): 3312–3319. doi:10.1016/j.jssc.2009.09.026. Bibcode2009JSSCh.182.3312R. 
  5. Taylor, Harry F.W. (June 1986). "Proposed Structure for Calcium Silicate Hydrate Gel". Journal of the American Ceramic Society 69 (6): 464–467. doi:10.1111/j.1151-2916.1986.tb07446.x. 
  6. Cong, Xiandong; Kirkpatrick, R.James (April 1996). "29Si and 17O NMR investigation of the structure of some crystalline calcium silicate hydrates". Advanced Cement Based Materials 3 (3–4): 133–143. doi:10.1016/S1065-7355(96)90045-0. 
  7. Brunet, F.; Bertani, Ph.; Charpentier, Th.; Nonat, A.; Virlet, J. (October 2004). "Application of Si Homonuclear and H− Si Heteronuclear NMR Correlation to Structural Studies of Calcium Silicate Hydrates". The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 108 (40): 15494–15502. doi:10.1021/jp031174g. 
  8. Kumar, Abhishek; Walder, Brennan J.; Kunhi Mohamed, Aslam; Hofstetter, Albert; Srinivasan, Bhuvanesh; Rossini, Aaron J.; Scrivener, Karen; Emsley, Lyndon et al. (7 July 2017). "The Atomic-Level Structure of Cementitious Calcium Silicate Hydrate". The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 121 (32): 17188–17196. doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b02439. 
  10. "Potential Application of Nanotechnology on Cement Based Materials".