Holmium doped AlN thin films have been deposited on flat silicon substrates and optical fibers of different diameters, in order to fabricate resonant cavities for lasers. In particular, the films on fiber substrates are expected to perform as cylindrical waveguides or “whispering gallery” mode cavities. The AlN films are deposited by reactive sputtering at liquid nitrogen temperature, using 100–200 Watts RF power, 5–8 mTorr nitrogen, using a metal target of Al and Ho. One micron thick films of AlN:Ho have been deposited on flat silicon substrates and 10 micron thick films on 80μm and smaller optical fibers. X-ray Diffraction and SEM studies show that films deposited on flat silicon are amorphous while those deposited on the fibers show columnar growth and some gain structure, most probably due to a temperature rise at the substrate during deposition. Cathodoluminescence (CL) emission is observed in thermally activated AlN:Ho in both crystalline and amorphous forms. An intense, narrow emission peak is observed at 549 nm. Less intense peaks are also observed at 362nm, 394 nm, 461 nm, and 659 nm. The most promising wavelength for our design is emission from the 5S2 → 5I8 transition at 549 nm.
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