Optically transparent polymethyl methacrylate composites made with glass fibers of varying refractive index


The dependence of the optical and mechanical properties of optically transparent polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) composites on the annealing temperature of BK10 glass fibers was investigated. Annealing was used to modify the refractive index (R.I.) of the glass fiber so that it would more closely match that of PMMA. Annealing increased the refractive index of the fibers and narrowed the distribution of refractive index of the fibers, but lowered their mechanical strength so the mechanical properties of composites reinforced with annealed fibers were not as good as for composites containing as-pulled (chilled) glass fibers. The refractive index of as-pulled 17.1 μm diameter fibers (R.I. = 1.4907) increased to 1.4918 and 1.4948 after annealing at 350 °C to 500 °C for 1 h or 0.5 h, respectively. The refractive index of glass fibers annealed at 400 °C/1 h best matched that of PMMA at 589.3 nm and 25 °C, so the composite reinforced with those fibers had the highest optical transmission. Because annealed glass fibers had a more uniform refractive index than unannealed fibers, the composites made with annealed fibers had a higher optical transmission. The mechanical strength of annealed fiber/PMMA composites decreased as the fiber annealing temperature increased. A composite containing fibers annealed at 450 °C/1 h had a tensile strength 26% lower than that of a composite made with as-pulled fibers, but 73% higher than that for unreinforced PMMA. This decrease was avoided by treating annealed fibers with HF. Composites made with annealed and HF (10 vol. %)-treated (for 30 s) glass fibers had a tensile strength (~200 MPa) equivalent to that of the composites made with as-pulled fibers. However, as the treatment time in HF increased, the tensile strength of the composites decreased because of a significant reduction in diameter of the glass fiber which reduced the volume percent fiber in the composite.

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Correspondence to Seunggu Kang.

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Kang, S., Lin, H., Day, D.E. et al. Optically transparent polymethyl methacrylate composites made with glass fibers of varying refractive index. Journal of Materials Research 12, 1091–1101 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1557/JMR.1997.0152

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