Advances in fiber optic materials have allowed for the construction of fibers and waveguides capable of transmitting infrared radiation. An investigation of the transmission characteristics associated with two commonly used types of infrared-transmitting fibers/waveguides for prospective use in a fiber/waveguide-coupled attenuated total internal reflection (ATR) probe was performed. Characterization of silver halide polycrystalline fiber optics and hollow silica waveguides was done on the basis of the transmission of infrared light using a conventional fiber optic coupling accessory and an infrared microscope. Using the fiber optic coupling accessory, the average percent transmission for three silver halide fibers was 18.1 ± 6.1% relative to a benchtop reflection accessory. The average transmission for two hollow waveguides (HWGs) using the coupling accessory was 8.0 ± 0.3%. (Uncertainties in the relative percent transmission represent the standard deviations.) Reduced transmission observed for the HWGs was attributed to the high numerical aperture of the coupling accessory. Characterization of the fibers/waveguides using a zinc selenide lens objective on an infrared microscope indicated 24.1 ± 7.2% of the initial light input into the silver halide fibers was transmitted. Percent transmission obtained for the HWGs was 98.7 ± 0.1%. Increased transmission using the HWGs resulted from the absence or minimization of insertion and scattering losses due to the hollow air core and a better-matched numerical aperture. The effect of bending on the transmission characteristics of the fibers/waveguides was also investigated. Significant deviations in the transmission of infrared light by the solid-core silver halide fibers were observed for various bending angles. Percent transmission greater than 98% was consistently observed for the HWGs at the bending angles. The combined benefits of high percent transmission, reproducible instrument responses, and increased bending tolerance indicated HWGs should be preferred in the construction of a fiber/waveguide-coupled ATR probe.

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