Microstructure refinement and shrinkage mitigation of alkali-activated slag paste by superabsorbent polymer

Xinyan Liu, Bo Li, Yung Tsang Chen, Bahman Ghiassi

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the effects of superabsorbent polymer (SAP) dosage, particle size, addition method, and absorption status on the properties and microstructure of alkali-activated slag (AAS) pastes. The results show that incorporating SAP can mitigate the autogenous shrinkage and short-term drying shrinkage of the AAS pastes, mainly depending on the SAP dosage and size. The release of activator can promote the geopolymerisation around the SAP particles, which improves the local micro-hardness of the pastes and reduces the amount of capillary pores. This consequently densifies the microstructure around the SAP particles and mitigates the shrinkage of the AAS pastes. The large SAP particles are found to release activator to a farther distance than the small ones, which is more effective in mitigating the autogenous shrinkage. The promoted conversion from mesopores to gel pores in the paste with large SAP is also beneficial to reducing the driving force of autogenous shrinkage. By contrast, the addition method and absorption status of SAP particles have marginal impacts on the autogenous shrinkage as the released activators travel a similar distance within the AAS pastes. Moreover, adding SAP particles increases the number of gel pores and macropores regardless of their size or absorption status, leading to an increased long-term drying shrinkage and a weakened mechanical property of the AAS paste. Overall, the findings of this study can guide the mix design and preparation of AAS materials with SAP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130884
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2023


  • Alkali-activated slag
  • Internal curing
  • Mechanical properties
  • Shrinkage
  • Superabsorbent polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Microstructure refinement and shrinkage mitigation of alkali-activated slag paste by superabsorbent polymer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this