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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  2. Stabilization of sulfate-rich expansive subgrade soils is a persistent cause of concern for transportation infrastructure engineers and practitioners. The application of traditional calcium-based stabilizers is generally not recommended for treating such soils because of the formation of deleterious reaction products such as ettringite. Sulfate-induced heaving causes severe structural damage to pavements and accounts for enormous expenditure from routine maintenance and rehabilitation activities. A research study was undertaken to evaluate the feasibility of using a metakaolin-based geopolymer (GP) for the treatment of sulfate-rich expansive soil. Laboratory studies were conducted on natural soil and artificially sulfate-rich soils, when treated with either lime or GP, to evaluate and compare the improvements in the engineering properties, including unconfined compressive strength, swelling and shrinkage, and resilient moduli characteristics over different curing periods. Microstructural studies, such as field emission scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction, were performed on treated soils to detect the formation of reaction products. The engineering studies indicate that GP treatment enhanced strength and resilient moduli while suppressing ettringite formation and the associated swell–shrink potential of the treated soils. The microstructural studies showed that GP gels contribute to the improvement of these engineering properties through the formation of a uniform geopolymer matrix. Inmore »addition, the absence of a calcium source suppressed the formation of ettringite in the GP-treated soils. Overall, the findings indicate that GPs could be used as a potential alternative to existing traditional stabilizers for treating sulfate-rich expansive soils.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  3. Titanium carbide/reduced graphene oxide (Ti 3 C 2 T z /rGO) gels were prepared by a one-step hydrothermal process. The gels show a highly porous structure with a surface area of ∼224 m 2 g −1 and average pore diameter of ∼3.6 nm. The content of GO and Ti 3 C 2 T z nanosheets in the reaction precursor was varied to yield different microstructures. The supercapacitor performance of Ti 3 C 2 T z /rGO gels varied significantly with composition. Specific capacitance initially increased with increasing Ti 3 C 2 T z content, but at high Ti 3 C 2 T z content gels cannot be formed. Also, the retention of capacitance decreased with increasing Ti 3 C 2 T z content. Ti 3 C 2 T z /rGO gel electrodes exhibit enhanced supercapacitor properties with high potential window (1.5 V) and large specific capacitance (920 F g −1 ) in comparison to pure rGO and Ti 3 C 2 T z . The synergistic effect of EDLC from rGO and redox capacitance from Ti 3 C 2 T z was the reason for the enhanced supercapacitor performance. A symmetric two-electrode supercapacitor cell was constructed with Ti 3 Cmore »2 T z /rGO, which showed very high areal capacitance (158 mF cm −2 ), large energy density (∼31.5 μW h cm −2 corresponding to a power density of ∼370 μW cm −2 ), and long stability (∼93% retention) after 10 000 cycles.« less
  4. Ceramic materials provide outstanding chemical and structural stability at high temperatures and in hostile environments but are susceptible to catastrophic fracture that severely limits their applicability. Traditional approaches to partially overcome this limitation rely on activating toughening mechanisms during crack growth to postpone fracture. Here, we demonstrate a more potent toughening mechanism that involves an intriguing possibility of healing the cracks as they form, even at room temperature, in an atomically layered ternary carbide. Crystals of this class of ceramic materials readily fracture along weakly bonded crystallographic planes. However, the onset of an abstruse mode of deformation, referred to as kinking in these materials, induces large crystallographic rotations and plastic deformation that physically heal the cracks. This implies that the toughness of numerous other layered ceramic materials, whose broader applications have been limited by their susceptibility to catastrophic fracture, can also be enhanced by microstructural engineering to promote kinking and crack-healing.
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