Design Building Materials Now

Enable the Building Structures of Tomorrow

Building materials such as concrete are created to produce greener, more efficient structures aiming to increase self-cleaning or healing abilities, strength, and durability or optimize thermal insulating properties. Researchers and materials engineers focus on expanding these capabilities with the industry’s future needs in mind.

Microscopy Solutions for Building Materials

Investigate building materials in multiple length scales and modalities and connect them with each other. From the material’s processing over its structure and properties up to its performance in engineering applications – from skyscrapers to pavement blocks and everything in between – make use of a whole range of microscope solutions.

  • Processing: Study hydration of cement with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).
  • Structure: Observe and quantify the produced structures, find out how they relate to properties, investigate failure analysis in building materials with the 3D submicron imaging capabilities of X-ray microscopy (XRM).
  • Properties and Performance: Investigate or predict how a novel building material, like self-healing concrete, will perform in a real-world application, using SEM.

Study The Processing Of Building Materials

With Scanning Electron Microscopy

Analyze building materials like cement, the composition, shape and morphology of its compounds, either dry or in a hydrated state with Scanning Electron Microscopy, which is suited not only to high vacuum experiments but also to environmental conditions.

  • Image concrete samples in a range of temperatures, pressures, and humidity conditions
  • Reveal hydration mechanisms at high resolution using a coolstage
  • Achieve high resolution, high contrast images with minimal sample preparation using detectors especially tailored for these varying conditions
Left image at 667 Pa shows sample equilibrium with the local atmosphere.
In the right image, the pressure is increased to 955 Pa causing deposition of liquid water on the sample - hydration.


Advanced Ceramics used as Modern Building Materials in 2D and 3D

Click below to watch the webinar.

Observe and Quantify the Structure of Building Materials

With X-ray Microscopy

Inversion of a region of interest in concrete to highlight the cracks and voids.

Imagine being able to investigate the root causes of cracking, such as lack of moisture, excess heat generation during the early stages of curing, mechanical stress, and internal chemical origins, such as rebar corrosion, in longer-term cracking and overcome these well-known limitations. Using acoustic or micro-computed tomography, you will acquire images with resolutions of several millimeters to possibly a 100 µm. With more high-end micro-CTs, you achieve higher resolutions, yet these experiments can only be carried out with samples of small sizes.

  • Characterize highly varying 3D topologies and crack networks non-destructively.
  • Image in 3D at sub-micron resolutions.
  • Investigate relatively large sample sizes in situ and quantify fracture evolution during stress and environmental conditions with 3D X-ray microscopy for fast imaging of intact samples.


Application Note

3D Submicron Imaging of Cracking In Building Materials

Click below to read the application note.

Investigate the Properties and Performance of Building Materials

With Scanning Electron Microscopy

Think of further advancing self-healing concrete like researchers of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Inspired by their ability to repair themselves to a certain extent after being damaged, the researchers started a project to work with potential minerals (magnesia, bentonite clay, quicklime) used in cement that expand when cracks form. This expansion of the mineral material fills the cracks and bridges them over time.

  • Characterize the material’s microstructure and identify the self-healing bridges formed during the healing process.
  • Capture high-definition topographical images using SEM with low acceleration energie
  • Identify the composition and mix of self-healing materials based on their structural pattern and formation style
Self-healing minerals expansion and crack bridging network imaged with ZEISS EVO SE detector with a beam energy of 12 keV shows flower-like hydromagnesite structures had formed.

Technology Note

Concrete Crack Self-healing Materials Micro Structure Investigation

Click below to read the technology note.

Microscopy Solutions for Building Materials

Discover the ZEISS Product and Software Portfolio

Light Microscopy (LM)

ZEISS Axio Imager 2, Axio Lab.A1, Axioscope

Investigate Building Materials with Light Microscopy

Light Microscope, ZEISS Axio Imager 2 for Materials Research

ZEISS Axio Imager 2

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ZEISS Axio Lab.A1

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ZEISS Axioscope

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X-ray Microscopy (XRM)

ZEISS Xradia 600-series Versa, Xradia 800 Ultra Family

Investigate Building Materials with X-ray Microscopy

X-ray Microscope, ZEISS Xradia 620 Versa

ZEISS Xradia 600-series Versa

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ZEISS Xradia Ultra Family

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Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)


Investigate Building Materials with Scanning Electron Microscopy

Scanning Electron Microscope, ZEISS EVO 15


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Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FE-SEM)


Investigate Building Materials with Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy

Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope, ZEISS SIGMA 500


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Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy (FIB-SEM)

ZEISS Crossbeam Family

Investigate Building Materials with Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy

Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope, ZEISS Crossbeam 550

ZEISS Crossbeam Family

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Software Solutions / Multi-modal Microscopy

ZEISS ZEN Core Modules, ZEN Connect

Investigate Building Materials with Software Solutions for Multi-modal Microscopy

Software Solutions, ZEISS ZEN Core Modules

ZEISS ZEN Core Modules

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Questions? Get In Touch With Us.

Speak to our microscopy experts for building materials.

Get in touch with us to find out more about the benefits of ZEISS Microscopy Solutions for your building materials research, book a demo at our customer center, or get a quote. We are looking forward to hearing from you.