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Erbium in Semiconductors: Where are we coming from; Where are we going?

  • A. R. Peaker (a1)


It is one of the curious twists of technology that transitions which are parity forbidden in the free ions of rare earths should have become of immense importance in solids used in fluorescent lighting, cathode ray tubes and optical amplifiers. It is not an unreasonable expectation that having achieved such success with excitation from photons and accelerated electrons that junction electroluminescence should also be important. Since Ennen demonstrated good low temperature electroluminescence in silicon in the early 80's, a formidable amount of work has been done to try to understand the excitation and quenching mechanisms in common semiconductor hosts such as silicon and gallium arsenide. Although some remarkable experimental results have been obtained for erbium in nanostructures, insulators and wide bandgap materials the performance in bulk silicon and silicon germanium is disappointing. More importantly we still have not achieved a comprehensive, detailed understanding of the processes of non-radiative competition to the rare earth emission. In this paper the key steps that have been made over the last twenty years towards our present day knowledge of erbium luminescence in semiconducting hosts are reviewed and an assessment made of what remains to be done.



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