Skip to Main Content
Piezoelectric semiconductor strained layers can be treated as piezoelectric transducers to generate nanometer-wavelength and THz-frequency acoustic waves. The mechanism of nano-acoustic wave (NAW) generation in strained piezoelectric layers, induced by femtosecond optical pulses, can be modeled by a macroscopic elastic continuum theory. The optical absorption change of the strained layers modulated by NAW through quantum-confined Franz-Keldysh (QCFK) effects allows optical detection of the propagating NAW. Based on these piezoelectric-based optical principles, we have designed an optical piezoelectric transducer (OPT) to generate NAW. The optically generated NAW is then applied to one-dimensional (1-D) ultrasonic scan for thickness measurement, which is the first step toward multidimensional nano-ultrasonic imaging. By launching a NAW pulse and resolving the returned acoustic echo signal with femtosecond optical pulses, the thickness of the studied layer can be measured with <1 nm resolution. This nano-structured OPT technique will provide the key toward the realization of nano-ultrasonics, which is analogous to the typical ultrasonic techniques but in a nanometer scale.