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Laboratory for Mineralogical and Microstructural Characterization of Materials

The Laboratory for Mineralogical and Microstructural Characterization of Materials (U3M) is integrated in the Metallic Materials Unit of the Materials Department of LNEC.

Additional information can be found at this laboratory's flyer.

Field of expertise

U3M develops activity related with the mineralogical and microstructural characterization of building materials, including:
  • chemical, structural and mineralogical characterization of modern and historical building materials;
  • assessment and prevention of building materials degradation and identification of alteration products.


U3M conducts chemical, mineralogical and microscopic tests for observation and characterization of materials (concrete, mortars, coatings, tiles, mural painting, soils, petrous materials, ceramic products, aerial and hydraulic binders, metals and metallic alloys, etc.), as well as for identification and mitigation of degradation causes. These tests include:
  • optical microscopic observations;
  • scanning electron microscopy tests and x-ray microanalysis;
  • alkali-aggregate reactivity assessment on mortar prisms;
  • alkali-aggregate reactivity assessment at 38/60ºc on concrete prisms;
  • assessment of residual reactivity to alkalis and sulphates in concrete;
  • mineralogical analysis by xrd;
  • thermal analysis (tga/dta);
  • evaluation of cement content in concrete and mortars;
  • diagnosis of expansive chemical reactions;
  • characterization of old mortars;
  • microstructural characterization of metallic materials;
  • grain size classification;
  • microhardness evaluation;
  • macrographic analysis;
  • fractographic analysis.

Other services

U3M supports studies requested by different public or private bodies, construction stakeholders, infrastructure owners and producers of construction products, in particular:
  • development and qualification of new products;
  • expertise on pathologies of materials;
  • characterization of materials and products.