Laser excitation of surface wave motion

Jan D. Achenbach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


A simplified analysis of surface wave generation by laser irradiation of a homogeneous, isotropic, linearly elastic body is presented. The thermoelastic process of expansion of a surface element is examined, and a direct derivation of equivalent mechanical surface loading is presented. A novel representation of surface wave motion is given in terms of a single-wave potential for a carrier wave propagating on the free surface. Finally, for time-harmonic laser irradiation the elastodynamic reciprocity theorem is used to relate the generated surface wave motion to a virtual surface wave, which leads to a straightforward analytical determination of the generated surface waves for the cases of laser line- and point-focused illumination. The surface-wave pulses for pulsed irradiation are obtained by Fourier superposition. For the line-focus case the surface-wave pulse is proportional to the laser pulse, while for point-focus illumination the surface-wave pulse consists of a principal pulse followed by a smaller pulse of opposite sign.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1885-1902
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 2003
EventProceedings of a Symposium on Dynamic Failure and Thin Film - Pasadena, United States
Duration: Jan 16 2003Jan 16 2003


  • Elastic
  • Laser excitation
  • Surface wave
  • Ultrasonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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