Acousto-optic interaction between a narrow laser beam and acoustic waves in air is analyzed theoretically. The photoelastic relation in air is used to derive the phase modulation of laser light in air-coupled reflection vibrometry induced by angular spatial spectral components comprising the acoustic beam. Maximum interaction was found for the zero spatial acoustic component propagating normal to the laser beam. The angular dependence of the imaging efficiency is determined for the axial and nonaxial acoustic components with the regard for the laser beam steering in the scanning mode. The sensitivity of air-coupled vibrometry is compared with conventional “Doppler” reflection vibrometry. Applications of the methodology for visualization of linear and nonlinear air-coupled fields are demonstrated.
© 2008 Optical Society of America
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