The strength of polymer-coated fused silica optical fiber is dependent on the ambient moisture because of stress corrosion. The diffusion rate of water vapor through the polymer coating can be estimated by monitoring the strength as a function of time after suddenly changing the ambient humidity. Not only is this technique a new way of sensing humidity, but it also allows estimation of the time needed for the coated fiber to equilibrate with its environment. A comparison has been made between the diffusion coefficients measured in this way and by monitoring the weight of free-standing polymer films as a function of time. Fickian diffusion has been assumed and is justified by the good agreement between the experiment and theory. The diffusion of water vapor both into and out of various polymers was investigated.


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