Group Overview

With the world facing a climate crisis due to the effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and associated global warming, key scientific research is required to aid reducing the impact society has on the environment.

The Sustainable Cements Group (SCG) at Princeton University is a multi-disciplined research group addressing the sustainability challenge facing cementitious materials and related systems. The main focus of the group centers on understanding and optimizing engineering and environmental materials, with an emphasis on controlling the chemical mechanisms responsible for formation and long-term degradation of sustainable cements. Other areas of research include conventional cements, new materials for carbon dioxide capture and utilization, industrial waste recycling, and fundamentals of silicates dissolution. This research spans multiple length and time scales, utilizing advanced synchrotron and neutron-based experimental techniques, and simulation methodologies founded at the nanoscale. A component of Dr. White’s research involves technique development (experiment and simulation) and advanced data analysis methods, including synchrotron-based micro-pair distribution function analysis and coarse-grained simulation methods.

Associate Professor Claire White leads the Sustainable Cements Group (SCG) at Princeton University. The group is situated in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.


July 2019 – Dr. White has been promoted to Associate Professor.

Recent paper on impact of alkalis, and their ordering, on the stability of C-S-H: Symmetry-induced stability in alkali-doped calcium silicate hydrate in J. Phys. Chem. C

Check out our latest paper on the reaction mechanisms occurring during alkali-activated of slag: In situ quasi-elastic neutron scattering study on the water dynamics and reaction mechanisms in alkali-activated slags, in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.

Our paper, Drying-induced Atomic Structural Rearrangements in Sodium-based Calcium-alumino-silicate-hydrate Gel and the Mitigating Effects of ZrO2 Nanoparticles, in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. was named as a HOT manuscript in 2018. Congrats Blake (1st author) and rest of the team.

Farewell and good luck to Dr. Ongun Ozcelik and Dr. Nishant Garg. Ongun is at UCSD as a postdoc working with Prof. Paesani. Nishant is an Assistant Prof. at UIUC in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department.

Group photo September 2018. LtoR: Kai Gong, Nishant Garg, Maria Curria, Christine Pu, Claire White, Bastien Wild, Blake Yang.

September 2018 – Welcome Christine Pu and Maria Curria! Christine and Maria are CEE graduate students joining the group.

April 2018 – Congratulations to (1) Kai Gong on being awarded the Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Fellowship from Princeton University for his 5th year of his PhD, and (2) Sarah Wang (senior undergrad) on receiving an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!!

March 2018 – Check out Kengran (Blake) Yang’s (grad student) new paper:
Drying-induced Atomic Structural Rearrangements in Sodium-based Calcium-alumino-silicate-hydrate Gel and the Mitigating Effects of ZrO2 Nanoparticles

Check out Kai Gong’s (grad student) new paper:
Nanoscale chemical degradation mechanisms of sulfate attack in alkali-activated slag

A new paper has appeared in Nano Letters:
Highly surface-active Ca(OH)2 monolayer as a CO2 capture material

Check out a new paper from the group:
Impact of activator chemistry on permeability of alkali-activated slags

September 2017 – Welcome Karina Alventosa! Karina is a CEE graduate student in the group and joins us from industry.

A belated goodbye to Arne Peys (visiting PhD student). Arne visited SCG for 6 months working on the atomic structure of non-ferrous slags and alkali-activated materials synthesized using these slags.

Dr. White received an NSF CAREER award (started July 2016), which is highlighted in an issue of the American Ceramic Society Bulletin (click here).

Check out our new papers:
Impact of chemical variability of ground granulated blast-furnace slag on the phase formation in alkali-activated slag pastes
Modeling the formation of alkali aluminosilicate gels at the mesoscale using coarse-grained Monte Carlo 

July 2016 – A belated welcome to Eric McCaslin. Eric is a CBE graduate student (started Fall 2015) who completed his undergraduate studies at Georgia Tech.

February 2016 – Welcome to Nishant Garg. Nishant joins the group as a postdoc, having completed his PhD last year at Aarhus University.

December 2015 – A belated welcome to V. Ongun Ozcelik. Ongun joined the group in October as a postdoc. He completed his PhD earlier this year at Bilkent University.

December 2015 – Group photo in front of the new Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment building!

From L to R: Ongun Ozcelik, Claire White, Anna Blyth, Kengran (Blake) Yang, Pierre-Marie Nigay (visiting postdoc) and Kai Gong. Photographer: Enrico Sassoni.

September 2015 – Antoine Morandeau departed in July this year for an academic position at Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs des Travail de la Construction de Caen (ESITC-Caen) in France.

Check out our new(ish) papers:
Role of Magnesium-Stabilized Amorphous Calcium Carbonate Mitigating the Extent of Carbonation in Alkali-Activated Slag,
In Situ X-ray Pair Distribution Function Analysis of Accelerated Carbonation of a Synthetic Calcium-Silicate-Hydrate Gel, and
Nanoscale Heterogeneities in a Fractured Alkali-Activated Slag Binder: A Helium Ion Microscopy Analysis

March 2015 – A belated welcome to Maria Elia Natali, who is visiting our group for 6 months. Maria is a PhD student from the University of Bologna.

November 2014 – Check out our new paper on the atomic scale ordering in conventional and alkali-activated cements: Intrinsic Differences in Atomic Ordering of Calcium (Alumino)Silicate Hydrates in Conventional and Alkali-Activated Cements

September 2014 – Two new grad students are starting in the group this semester, Kengran (Blake) Yang and Kai Gong. Welcome Blake and Kai.

August 2014 – Angela and Kevin, two high school students working in the group this summer, are featured in an article on the Princeton homepage. The article can be found here.

June 2014 – Welcome Thomas Berti. Thomas is a visiting Masters student from France who will be working with us until September.

June 2014 – Welcome Angela Mao and Kevin Shen. Angela and Kevin are high school students working in the group this summer as a part of the Laboratory Learning Program.

June 2014 – Welcome Kristina Bennett. Kristina will be working in the group this summer as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student at Princeton University. She is majoring in Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University.

The Princeton Alumni Weekly magazine recently contained a piece on Claire White and sustainable cement research. The article can be found here. Another article can be found here from eariler in the year.

Catherine Eiben will be giving an oral presentation at the 5th Advances in Cement-Based Materials: Characterization, Processing, Modeling and Sensing (ACerS), July 9-11 in Cookeville, TN. She will be presenting her recent research on the permeability of alkali-activated slag cements.

Recent publication – “Uncovering the True Atomic Structure of Disordered Materials: The Structure of a Hydrated Amorphous Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3⋅3D2O)” is available in Chemistry of Materials.

November 2013 – Welcome Dr. Antoine Morandeau. Antoine is a postdoc in the group and joins us from Ifsttar and Unité de Recherche Navier (Université Paris Est Marne la Vallée) where he recently completed his PhD. Congratulations and welcome.

September 2013 – We have two undergraduate senior year thesis students who will be working in the group this year. Clarissa Wilbur and Jarred Mihalik. Welcome Clarissa and Jarred!

September 2013 – Welcome Catherine Eiben! Catherine is a Masters of Science in Engineering student and will be conducting a thesis on sustainable cements. She joins us from industry, having worked for a couple of years in an engineering firm after completion of a BEng. (Civil) at Cornell University.

August 2013 – Dr. Claire White started at Princeton University and is settling into life on campus.