Trivalent rare-earth ions provide a wide range of possibilities for optical gain via stimulated emission from a meta-stable excited state. These systems can be exploited in optically pumped lasers and traveling wave amplifiers, where the emission and excitation (pump) wavelengths correspond to applications and conveniently available sources respectively. In Er3+, the 4I132 (metastable) to 4I15/2 (ground) transition energy corresponds to the 1.5 µm optical communication wavelength window, and laser diodes for the principal pump bands around 980 and 1480 nm are conveniently available. Silica-based glass fiber is also a suitable host for Er3+ at low concentrations. Consequently, erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFA’s) have become increasingly important in fiber networks. Commercially available EDFA’s offer excellent performance, including high gain (> 40 dB) over a wide spectral range (> 40 nm). Other key performance measures include gain flatness (particularly for wavelength multiplexed applications), noise figure, and gain saturation level as a function of input power level. Fiber amplifiers for the 1.3 µm window are also available, but these have not achieved nearly the performance/cost levels of EDFA’s.


Planar Waveguide Optical Gain Input Power Level Glass Waveguide Phosphosilicate Glass 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

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  • E. M. Yeatman

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