Feasibility of using Near-Field Microwave Reflectometry for Monitoring Autogenous Crack Healing in Cementitious Materials


This study demonstrates the feasibility of using the near-field microwave reflectometry technique to nondestructively monitor the evolution of autogenous crack healing of mortar containing high volume of supplementary cementitious materials. Mortar samples were subjected to controlled compressive loading to generate cracks, and subsequently exposed to wetting/drying cycles to initiate the autogenous crack healing process. Test results indicate that cracked mortar samples exhibit higher point-to-point microwave reflection coefficient variations caused by cracking and moisture ingress (i.e., larger coefficient of variation (COV) values of magnitude of reflection coefficient, |Γ|, obtained from microwave reflectometry). When subjected to wetting/drying cycles, samples with higher crack healing capability are found to undergo less variation in microwave reflection coefficient. Based on the results for cracked samples, the COV trends obtained for microwave reflection properties can be divided into three parts as a function of wetting/drying cycles: part (I) corresponding to a significant point-to-point microwave reflection variations resulting from crack formation and moisture ingress after the first wetting/drying cycle; part (II) indicating the onset of the crack healing process identified by the reduction in the COV values; and part (III) representing slow-down of crack healing process for the regions exposed to microwave radiation as indicated by the relatively constant COV values during additional wetting/drying cycles. Such variations in microwave reflection properties can be linked to changes in moisture transport properties and subsequent crack healing process. To corroborate the microwave reflectometry results, concurrent ultrasonic measurements were conducted on the mortar samples during the self-healing process, and a good correlation was observed between the outcomes of these two test methods. The results of material characterization assessments including capillary water absorption, crack healing quantification, as well as X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy of crack healing products were also used to quantify the crack healing evolution for the investigated mortar samples.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Second Department

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Characterization; Microstructure; Microwave Measurement; Microwaves; Moisture; Mortar; Nondestructive Examination; Reflection; Reflectometers; Scanning Electron Microscopy; Testing; Ultrasonic Applications; Ultrasonic Measurement; Ultrasonic Testing; Water Absorption; Wetting; X Ray Diffraction; Capillary Water Absorption; Coefficient Of Variation; Crack-Healing; Material Characterizations; Microwave Non-Destructive Testing; Microwave Reflection Properties; Microwave Reflectometry; Supplementary Cementitious Material; Cracks; Autogenous Crack Healing; Microwave Nondestructive Testing

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2018 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2018