There has been very little work done in the past to extend the wavelength range of fiber image bundles to the IR range. This is due, in part, to the lack of IR transmissive fibers with optical and mechanical properties analogous to the oxide glass fibers currently employed in the visible fiber bundles. Our research is aimed at developing high-resolution hollow-core coherent IR fiber bundles for transendoscopic infrared imaging. We employ the hollow glass waveguide (HGW) technology that was used successfully to make single-HGWs with Ag/AgI thin film coatings to form coherent bundles for IR imaging. We examine the possibility of developing endoscopic systems to capture thermal images using hollow waveguide fiber bundles adjusted to the spectral range and investigate the applicability of such systems. We carried out a series of measurements in order to characterize the optical properties of the fiber bundles. These included the attenuation, resolution, and temperature response. We developed theoretical models and simulation tools that calculate the light propagation through HGW bundles, and which can be used to calculate the optical properties of the fiber bundles. Finally, the HGW fiber bundles were used to transmit thermal images of various heated objects; the results were compared with simulation results. The experimental results are encouraging, show an improvement in the resolution and thermal response of the HGW fiber bundles, and are consistent with the theoretical results. Nonetheless, additional improvements in the attenuation of the bundles are required in order to be able to use this technology for medical applications.
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