The photoluminescent properties of erbium doped silicon rich silicon oxide (SRSO) is investigated. The silicon content of SRSO was varied from 43 to 33 at. % and Er concentration was 0.4–0.7 at. % in all cases. We observe strong 1.54 μ m luminescence due to 4I13/2⇒4I15/2 Er3+ 4f transition, excited via energy transfer from carrier recombination in silicon nanoclusters to Er 4f shells. The luminescent lifetimes at the room temperature are found to be 4–7 msec, which is longer than that reported from Er in any semiconducting host material, and comparable to that of Er doped SiO2 and A12O3. The dependence of the Er3+ luminescent intensities and lifetimes on temperature, pump power and on background illumination shows that by using SRSO, almost all non-radiative decay paths of excited Er3+ can be effectively suppressed, and that such suppression is more important than increasing excitation rate of Er3+. A planar waveguide using Er doped SRSO is also demonstrated.