Fiber quality measurement is critical to assessing the value of a bale of cotton for various textile purposes. An instrument that could measure numerous cotton quality properties by optical means could be made simpler and faster than current fiber quality measurement instruments, and it might be more amenable to on-line measurement at processing facilities. To that end, a laser system was used to investigate cotton fiber samples with respect to electromagnetic scattering at various wavelengths, polarization angles, and scattering angles. A Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) instrument was also used to investigate the transmission of electromagnetic energy at various mid-infrared wavelengths. Cotton samples were selected to represent a wide range of micronaire values. Varying the wavelength of the laser at a fixed polarization resulted in little variation in scattered light among the cotton samples. However, varying the polarization at a fixed wavelength produced notable variation, indicating that polarization might be used to differentiate among cotton samples with respect to certain fiber properties. The FT-IR data in the 12 to 22 μm range produced relatively large differences in the amount of scattered light among all samples, and FT-IR data at certain combinations of fixed wavelengths were highly linearly related to certain measures of cotton quality including micronaire.

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