Abstract

We describe a novel noninvasive optical technique to monitor the refractive-index variation in an epoxy-based resin that is due to the polymerization process. This kind of resin is widely used in polymer matrix composites. It is well known that the process of fabricating a thermoset-based composite involves mass and heat transfer coupled with irreversible chemical reactions that induce physical changes. To improve the quality and the reliability of these materials, monitoring the cure and optimization of the manufacturing process are of key importance. We discuss the basic operating principles of an optical system based on angle deflection measurements and present typical cure-monitoring results obtained from optical characterization. The method provides a flexible, high-sensitivity, material-independent, low-cost, noninvasive tool for monitoring real-time refractive-index variation.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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