Gerald J. Diebold

Professor of Chemistry

Research Area

Contact Info

GeoChem 231401-863-3586EmailResearchers@Brown ProfileDiebold Lab Webpage

Research Statement

The process of sound wave generation by light, known as the photoacoustic effect, is quite general and can be initiated in liquids and solids as well as gases. The Diebold group has focused on photoacoustic research for several decades, investigating fundamental phenomena and new effects. Much of the current effort in the group has been devoted to high frequency transient grating experiments, a photoacoustic recording method that has high time resolution. Other research directions for the Diebold group include introduction of an imaging method based on the ultrasonic vibration potential, using the photoacoustic effect for determining infrared emissivities, and using cryogenic detectors for recording ultra-small temperature changes.

Areas of Interest

  • Photoacoustic effect
  • Thermal diffusion
  • Medical imaging
  • Vibration potential imaging
  • X-ray phase contrast
  • Radiation force spectrometry


  • 1974 - Ph.D., Physics: Boston College
  • 1965 - B.S., Physics: University of Notre Dame

Selected Publications

Science, Nature, PNAS:

  • “Photoacoustic trace gas detection at the parts-per-quadrillion level with a moving infrared grating” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, 7246-7249 (2017)
  • "Generation of Ultrasonic Waves from a Layered Source" with T. Sun, Nature 355, 806 (1992)
  • “Chemical Amplification of Optoacoustic Signals", with M. T. O'Connor, Nature 301, 321 (1983); (see editorial p 286)
  • "Photoacoustic 'Signatures' of Particulate Matter: Optical Production of Acoustic Monopole Radiation", with M. I. Khan, and S. M. Park, Science 250, 101 (1990)
  • G Diebold and H. X. Chen, “Chemical Generation of Acoustic Waves: A ‘Giant’ Photoacoustic Effect, Science 270, 963 (1995)
  • "Laser Fluorimetry:  Subpicogram Detection of Aflatoxins Using High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography" with R. N. Zare, Science, 196, 1439 (1977).  [Done as postdoctoral]

Physical Review Letters:

  • “Thermal Diffusion in a Sinusoidal Temperature Field” with S. Danworaphong, and W. Craig, Phys. Rev. Lett, 92, 125,901 (2004)
  • “Photoacoustic Point Source’ with I. G. Calasso and W. Craig, Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 3550 (2001)
  • "Photoacoustic Monopole Radiation in One, Two, and Three Dimensions", with T. Sun and M. I Khan, Phys. Rev. Lett. 67, 3384 (1991)
  • “Thermal Diffusion Shock Waves” with S. Danworaphong, W. Craig, and V. Gusev, Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 095901 (2005) see also Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology 21 March 2005
  • "Interference in Atomic Fluorescence Following Photodissociation of Homonuclear Diatomic Molecules", Phys. Rev. Lett. 51, 1344 (l983).