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The aim of this work is to analyze the ability of modulated photothermal radiometry to retrieve the thermal diffusivity and the optical absorption coefficient of layered materials simultaneously. First, we extend the thermal quadrupole method to calculate the surface temperature of semitransparent multilayered materials. Then, this matrix method is used to evaluate the influence of heat losses by convection and radiation, the influence of the use of thin paint layers on the accuracy of thermal diffusivity measurements, and the effect of lateral heat diffusion due to the use of Gaussian laser beams. Finally, we apply the quadrupole method to retrieve (a) the thermal contact resistance in glass stacks and (b) the thermal diffusivity and optical absorption coefficient depth profiles in heterogeneous materials with continuously varying physical properties, as is the case of functionally graded materials and partially cured dental resins.