Date of Award

Spring 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical & Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Amin Dharamsi

Committee Member

Ravindra P. Joshi

Committee Member

Linda Vahala

Committee Member

Barbara Hargrave


Optoacoustic techniques are widely used to probe and characterize target materials including solids, liquids and gases. Included in such applications are diagnoses of thin films and semiconductor materials. The need to obtain greater spatial resolution requires the generation of shorter optoacoustic pulses. For such pulses, non-thermal effects may be quite important. On the other hand, even when an optoacoustic pulse is generated by an initially non-thermal technique, the thermal aspects become important in its evolution and propagation. The research undertaken in this Ph.D. dissertation included the generation and detection of optoacoustic signals through the thermal elastic mechanism. Several applications in material property diagnostics were investigated using several pulsed lasers. Both contact and non-contact detection techniques were used. A compact, lightweight, inexpensive system using a semiconductor laser, with potentially wide applicability, was developed.

We developed the methods of analysis required to compare and explain the experimental results obtained. Included in such development was the incorporation of the responsivity of a piezoelectric transducer, whose necessarily non-ideal characteristics need to be accounted for in any analysis. We extended the Rosencwaig-Gersho model, which is used to treat the thermal diffusion problem with a sinusoidal heat source, to a at source, to a general pulsed laser source. This problem was also solved by a numerical method we developed in this work.

Two powerful tools were introduced to process experimental data. The Fourier transform was used to resolve the time interval between two acoustic echoes. The wavelet transform was used to identify optoacoustic pulses in different wave modes or those generated by different mechanisms. The wavelet shrinkage technique was used to remove white noise from the signal.

We also developed a spectral ratio method, which eliminates the need for the knowledge of several material parameters, to obtain the optical absorption coefficient. Finally, we extended the optoacoustic measurement to biological samples and applied techniques that we developed in this work to process and analyze signals obtained from such samples.