We have developed an innovative ultrasonic transducer system (CHOT) which is optically excited by means of lasers. It can be used both for generation and detection of narrowband ultrasound and provides non-contact (or even remote), couplant-free generation and/or detection. It has also the advantage of being inexpensive to manufacture and the simplicity of its concept makes it ideal for industrial applications. In this study we present results where CHOTs have been used both for excitation and detection of surface acoustic waves. An initial theoretical model is also presented which describes the principle of operation.