Over the past two decades, numerous research studies have been conducted to explore behavior of self-sensing cementitious composites with different functional fillers. Most of these studies investigated the use of fillers such as carbon nanofiber (CNF), carbon black, and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in cement composites to develop a multifunctional material. Since its discovery in 2004, graphene has also raised significant attention as 2D nanoscale reinforcement for composite materials. The planar structure of graphene sheets provides more contact area with the host material. However, high cost and dispersion difficulties are among the drawbacks of graphene. More recently, graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs), which have very thin but wide aspect ratio, are drawing the graphene market due to their advantages such as ease of processing and excellent material properties at a very low cost. The application of two-dimensional graphene nanoplatelets in cementitious composites has yet to gain widespread attention.
This paper investigates the self-sensing capabilities of GNP-reinforced hydraulic Portland cement composites. In particular, the effects of GNP content on the electrical properties and piezoresistive characteristics of mortar specimens are explored. In addition, a simple fabrication method that does not require special treating procedures such as ultrasonication and chemical (covalent) treatments for the dispersion of GNPs is pursued. The GNPs used in this study have an average thickness of 8 nanometers and a diameter of 25 microns. Standard prismatic mortar specimens containing different GNP concentrations are prepared using three different mixing procedures. The resistivity of the specimens is measured using a four-point probe method. The piezoresistive response of GNP-reinforced cement composites is evaluated under cyclic compressive loads.