Charge transfer (CT) transitions and UV induced color centers in Yb:YAG single crystals have been investigated. A simultaneous pair formation of a stable Yb2+ ion and a hole related (O) color center (hole polaron) are observed through a CT-process. Slightly different types of hole related color centers are formed in Yb:YAG crystals containing small levels of iron impurities. Furthermore, excitation spectroscopy on the UV irradiated Yb:YAG samples could confirm an energy transfer process between Yb3+ and Yb2+ ions. The findings are important for an increased knowledge of the physical loss mechanisms observed in Yb-doped laser materials, such as the nonlinear decay process in Yb:YAG crystals as well as the photodarkening phenomenon in Yb-doped fiber lasers.

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