We describe an adaptation of picosecond laser ultrasonics tailored for study of GHz-frequency longitudinal and shear acoustic waves in liquids. Time-domain coherent Brillouin scattering is used to detect multicycle acoustic waves after their propagation through variable thickness liquid layers into a solid substrate. A specialized optical pulse shaping method is used to generate sequences of pulses whose repetition rate determines the acoustic frequency. The measurements reveal the viscoelastic liquid properties and also include signatures of the optical and acoustic cavities formed by the multilayer sample assembly. Modeling of the signals allows their features to be distinguished so that liquid properties can be extracted reliably. Longitudinal and shear acoustic wave data from glycerol and from the silicon oil DC704 are presented.

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