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Optical detection of ultrasound has numerous advantages over traditional piezoelectric methods. These systems offer noncontact inspection, rapid scanning capabilities, fine spatial sampling, and large bandwidths. In addition, difficulties associated with conventional ultrasound imaging systems such as cross-talk between elements, electrical connections, and electromechanical resonances are greatly reduced or even eliminated. Because of this, high frequency phased arrays for ultrasound detection can be emulated by accurately positioning and focusing optical beams on a suitable surface, which defines array elements. However, optical systems have lower sensitivity than their piezoelectric counterparts, limiting their widespread use in ultrasound imaging. Active optical detection offers a solution. An active ultrasound detector consisting of a neodymium-doped glass waveguide laser with an optical demodulation system, was built demonstrating enhanced sensitivity while preserving the benefits of traditional passive optical detection.