The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is becoming increasingly recognized as an important instrument for the study of portland cement clinker, cement, and concrete. Images of clinker surface topography are used to study particle size and shape, as well as fracture surface features. Microstructural features such as phase distribution and abundance are obtained by imaging polished surfaces. X-ray microanalysis provides qualitative and quantitative elemental composition and images of element distribution. Computer-based image analysis systems are used to process microscope images to enhance details (such as the separation of individual phases) and image analysis for the measurement of features (such as phase abundance). The linking of the SEM with X-ray microanalysis and image analysis under computer control will provide automated, quantitative, and consistent analysis of portland cement clinker.
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