This paper reports a comparative study undertaken for different types of optical fibre sensor developed to monitor the cure of an epoxy resin system. The optical fibre sensors used to monitor the cure process were based on transmission spectroscopy, evanescent wave spectroscopy and refractive index monitoring.
The transmission sensor was prepared by aligning two optical fibres within a specially prepared sleeve with a gap between the optical fibre end faces. During cure, resin from the specimen flowed into the gap between the optical fibres allowing transmission spectra of the resin to be obtained.
The evanescent wave sensor was prepared by stripping the cladding from a high refractive index core optical fibre. The prepared sensor was embedded in the sample and attenuated total reflectance spectra recorded from the resin/core boundary.
Refractive index monitoring was undertaken using a high refractive index core optical fibre which had a small portion of its cladding removed. The prepared sensor was embedded in the resin specimen and light from a single wavelength source was launched into the fibre. Changes in the guiding characteristics of the sensor due to refractive index changes at the resin/core boundary were used to monitor the progress of the cure reaction.
The transmission and evanescent wave spectroscopy sensors were used to follow changes in characteristic near-infrared absorption bands of the resin during the cure reaction over the range 1450-1700 nm for the evanescent sensor and 2100-2250 nm for the transmission sensor. Consequently, these techniques required tuneable wavelength sources covering specific wavelength ranges. However, the refractive index based sensor used a single wavelength source. Therefore the equipment costs for this type of sensor were considerably less. Additionally, the refractive index sensor did not require a single wavelength source at any particular wavelength and could be applied to any spectral region in which the optical fibre would transmit light.
The advantages and disadvantages of these three methods are discussed.
Powell, G.R., Crosby, P.A., Waters, D.N., France, C.M., Spooncer, R.C. and Fernando, G.F., 1998. In-situ cure monitoring using optical fibre sensors-a comparative study. Smart materials and structures, 7(4), p.557.
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