Metallic diffusion-limited aggregate (DLA) films are well-known to exhibit near-perfect broadband optical absorption. We demonstrate that such films also manifest a substantial and relatively material-independent photoacoustic response, as a consequence of their random nanostructure. We theoretically and experimentally analyze the photoacoustic phenomena in DLA films and show that they can be used to create broadband air-coupled acoustic sources. These sources are inexpensive and simple to fabricate and work into the ultrasonic regime. We illustrate the device possibilities by building and testing an optically addressed acoustic phased array capable of producing virtually arbitrary acoustic intensity patterns in air.

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