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A simple, noncontact technique for the measurement of thermal diffusivity of solids is experimentally demonstrated. The technique is based on the photothermal displacement effect. Excellent agreement between the quasistatic theory of photothermal displacement and the experiment has been obtained. The technique has been demonstrated by measuring the thermal diffusivities of GaAs and InGaAs/AlGaAs multiple quantum wells. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.