The Composites Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has found optical coherence tomography (OCT) to be a powerful tool for non-destructive characterization of polymer matrix composites. Composites often exhibit superior properties to traditional materials such as wood and metal. However, the barrier to their widespread infiltration into consumer markets is cost. Composites can be made more cost competitive by improved composite design, process optimization, and quality control. OCT provides a means of evaluating the three aforementioned areas. OCT is a very versatile technique that can be applied to a variety of problems in polymer composites such as: microstructure determination for permeability and mechanical property prediction, void, dry spot, and defect detection, and damage evaluation.Briefly, OCT uses a low coherence source such as a superluminescent diode laser with a fiber optic based Michelson interferometer. In this configuration, the composite is the fixed arm of the interferometer. Reflections from heterogeneities within the sample are mapped as a function of thickness for any one position. Volume information is generated by translating the sample on a motorized stage. Information about the location and size of a feature within the composite is obtained.In this work, the power of OCT for imaging composite microstructure and damage is presented. An example of permeability prediction using the composite microstructure imaged from OCT is demonstrated. The effect of image processing on the value of permeability is discussed. Using the same sample, OCT imaging of composite impact damage is compared to more traditional techniques, x-ray computed tomography and confocal microscopy.
Citation: Optics and Lasers in Engineering
Pub Type: Journals
composites, damage, imaging, microstructure, optical coherence tomography, permeability