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Research and Equipment

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Active Research Projects

  1. CAREER: Nanoscale Interfacial Phenomena and Reaction Kinetics of Calcium Silicate Minerals in Cements. PI: Alexander S. Brand. Funding source: National Science Foundation. Objective: Implement novel and advanced characterization techniques to quantify the kinetics at the nanoscale solid-liquid interface for calcium silicate minerals in cements. 
  2. Microstructural Characterization of Iron Sulfide Mineral Oxidation in Aggregates Used in Concrete. PI: Alexander S. Brand. Funding source: NIST, ACI Foundation, and NSSGA. Objective: Characterize the reaction pathways involved with pyrrhotite reaction within concrete and develop methods to identify aggregates that are susceptible to reaction.
  3. Recovery of ZnO from End-of-Life Tires for Enhanced and Effective Waste Material Utilization. PIs: Alexander S. Brand and Wencai Zhang. Funding source: Center for Tire Research. Objective: Develop a method to remove leachable zinc from end-of-life tires to produce a more environmentally-conscious produce for civil infrastructure applications. 
  4. Beneficiation of Fly Ashes and Quarry Fines for Sustainable Ternary Concrete Mixes. PIs: Alexander S. Brand and Farshad Rajabipour. Funding source: Center for Integrated Asset Management for Multi-modal Transportation Infrastructure Systems. Objective: Explore the design and performance evaluation of a new ASTM C595 Type IT blended cement that includes high SO3 coal fly ash and quarry by-products. 


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Research Interests

  • Advanced characterization methods to quantify and understand micro- and nanostructural development in cementitious composites 
  • Quantitative phase microscopy techniques to measure the spatially- and temporally-dependent dissolution kinetics of material surfaces
  • Physicochemical interactions between cementitious materials and recycled/by-product/waste materials
  • Additive manufacturing of functionally-graded cementitious composites 
  • Alternative rigid pavement designs, such as with fiber-reinforced concrete, roller compacted concrete, and two-lift concrete



  • Calmetrix I-Cal Flex isothermal calorimeter
  • Gamry Interface 1010E potentiostat 
  • Proceq Flaw Detector 100
  • Germann Proove'it RCPT
  • Buehler Cast N' Vac castable vacuum system
  • Buehler IsoMet low speed cutting system
  • Buehler AutoMet grinder-polisher
  • Custom-built concrete pore solution extraction die
  • Custom-built X-ray transmission microscope
  • Muffle furnace 
  • Portable vacuum pumps
  • Fume hood


Available Shared Equipment in CEE Facilities 

  • Concrete mixers (1 ft3, 2 ft3, and 22 ft3)
  • Forney 300 Series concrete testing frames (compression, split tension, and modulus)
  • Fog room for concrete curing
  • MTS Insight and Instron 5980 Series universal testing machines
  • Fluke TiX580 thermal imager
  • Metrohm Eco Titrator autotitrator
  • GOM ARAMIS digital image correlation system
  • Qualitest Slab Tester (Freeze/Thaw)
  • Model mobile load simulator (MMLS3)
  • James Instruments Vu-Con impact echo system
  • James Instruments Windsor Probe system
  • James Instruments Maturity Meter
  • Proceq Pundit ultrasonic pulse velocity system
  • Proceq Profoscope rebar detector
  • Shimadzu Total Organic Carbon analyzer
  • Thermo Scientific iCAP-RQ ICP-MS


Available Shared Equipment in VT Facilities

  • Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory: scanning electron microscopy (JEOL IT-500HR, FEI Quanta 600 FEG, LEO 1550), transmission electron microscopy (FEI TITAN 80-300, JEOL JEM 2100, Philips EM420), focused ion beam (FEI Helios 600 NanoLab), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (PHI Quantera SXM), secondary ion mass spectrometry (Cameca IMS 7f GEO), ion beam milling and polishing (Gatan PIPS II, Gatan Solarus II, Leica EM TIC 3X), dynamic light scattering particle size analyzer (Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS), and BET surface area analyzer (Quantachrome AUTOSORB-1)
  • Materials Characterization Laboratory: X-ray diffraction (Bruker D8 XRD), small angle X-ray diffraction (Bruker N8 Horizon, Xeuss 3.0), thermogravimetric analysis (TA Instruments TGA 5500, TA Instruments TGA 500), thermal conductivity (TA Instruments Fox 50), differential scanning calorimetry (TA Instruments DSC Q200), infrared spectroscopy (Varian 670-IR), Raman microscopy (XploRA PLUS), and BET surface area analyzer (Micrometritics 3 Flex)
Photo of the concrete lab
Concrete Laboratory at the CEE Structures and Materials Laboratory
Photo of Forney testing frames
Forney 300 Series concrete testing frames in the CEE 3684 Laboratory Classroom
photo of the isothermal calorimeter
Calmetrix I-Cal Flex isothermal calorimeter at the CEE Structures and Materials Laboratory