The use of a mid-infrared transmitting fiber to carry the infrared beam of an FT-IR spectrometer outside of the optical bench is reported. In addition it is demonstrated that it is possible to analyze samples using the fiber as an internal reflection element. The fiber is covered with a protective coating which can be removed for a short region, to allow contact with the sample over a controlled length. Two examples of the use of an optical fiber for remote sampling are discussed. The first shows that a spectrum of a liquid sample (2-butanone) can be easily measured, and the second shows how a fiber can be used to monitor the progress of curing reactions in thermoset composite materials. The spectrum of a resin was recorded before the cure by embedding the optical fiber in the graphite fiber/polyimide matrix resin prepreg, and then the progress of the cure was monitored during the curing process. This type of remote sampling shows tremendous potential for opening totally new areas of usage for FT-IR spectrometry, including the studies of hazardous materials, enclosed reactions, and processes that do not allow samples to be taken inside the spectrometer.
David A. C. Compton, Stephen L. Hill, Norman A. Wright, Mark A. Druy, Joseph Piche, William A. Stevenson, and D. Warren Vidrine, "In Situ FT-IR Analysis of a Composite Curing Reaction Using a Mid-Infrared Transmitting Optical Fiber," Appl. Spectrosc. 42, 972-979 (1988)