Optical polarizability of erbium-oxygen complexes in sol-gel-based silica films

Sufian Abedrabbo, Bashar Lahlouh, Anthony T. Fiory, Nuggehalli M. Ravindra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


For erbium (Er)-doped amorphous oxides, such as those that are used in compact lightwave devices interfaced with silicon, values of the refractive indices are commonly obtained empirically. This work, combining experimental and theoretical studies, examines silica as the exemplary host and the influence of Er doping on the refractive index. Analysis of data is presented for the spectral refractive index in the ultraviolet to near infrared wavelength range of heavily Er-doped silica thin films prepared by spin coating a sol-gel precursor on silicon and subsequent vacuum annealing. Effective medium Lorentz–Lorenz data analysis determines that the dopant component has a refractive index of 1.76 ± 0.24 with wavelength dispersion constrained to within 2%. Considering the dopant as a localized ErO6 impurity complex, a corresponding theoretical refractive index of 1.662 is derived by calculating the optical polarizability and volume of the impurity. Data presented for room-temperature (∼293 K) photoluminescence in the vicinity of 1.54 µm are shown to be consistent with random variability in impurity sites. Inherent advantages of studying colloid-based materials are discussed. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, such a detailed study of the refractive index associated with Er impurities in silica is being reported for the first time in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135101
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


  • Erbium doping
  • Photoluminescence
  • Polarizability
  • Refractive index
  • Sol-gel silica


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