A study on the remarkable durability of 2000-year old Roman concrete was recently highlighted in “Miracle Materials,” a three-part science documentary by a German-French production company, Gruppe 5, for airing on the European public service channel, ARTE. The ALS work involved x-ray microdiffraction performed at Beamline 12.3.2 and was led by Marie Jackson, research professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, with ALS beamline scientist Nobumichi Tamura.
The ALS segment appears in Episode 1 of the series, titled “From Concrete to Clay.” The program explores new building technologies and new materials, with a central focus on “old” technologies and materials—such as ancient Roman concrete—that can be used or transformed into future technologies. Among the Roman concrete structures examined in the episode, the producers specifically focus on Jackson’s analysis of the composition and microstructure of concrete from the tomb of Roman noblewoman Caecilia Metella, the subject of a recent ALS Science Highlight.
The full series can be viewed online in Germany, France, and in many German- and French-speaking countries in Europe. A short excerpt of the ALS sequence with English subtitles is presented with permission below.