The depth characterization of photopolymer films by confocal Raman microscopy is often troublesome due to refraction effects. To minimize these effects, we used an oil immersion objective and a method was developed to avoid penetration of the oil without damaging the sample surface. Since the surface may be sticky if oxygen in the air inhibits the photopolymerization, a protective layer could not be put onto the film. Therefore, the method consists in using a thin polypropylene foil as substrate for the coating and placing the sample upside down under the objective. In this manner, the immersion oil could be deposited on top of the polypropylene. The advantage of this setup is that the oil, polypropylene substrate, and photopolymer film have close refractive indices. Basic calculations showed that the depth resolution is hardly affected in that configuration and double-bond conversion profiles could be plotted as a function of reliable nominal depth. The validity of the methodology was confirmed by experiments carried out with a dry metallurgical objective on the sample surface, face up, where refraction effects are still minor. In addition, infrared spectroscopy, which was used to follow the photopolymerization, corroborated the Raman conversion of the films over their thickness. The confocal Raman microscopy method can be applied to various photopolymerized systems to characterize their behavior towards oxygen inhibition and other heterogeneities in conversion arising from inner filter effects or interactions between additives for instance.
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