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Raman spectroscopy was used to map the stress distribution in the vicinity of discontinuities in a polymer using single-wall nanotubes seeded in the specimen. In the case of a hole in a polymer matrix subjected to unidirectional stress, the experimental stress field compared well with the classical linear elasticity solution. For a single glass fiber embedded in a polymer, the tangential thermal residual stress in the vicinity of the fiber was picked up by Raman spectroscopy and is in satisfactory agreement with a standard two-phase concentric cylinder model. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.