The influence of bismuth on erbium optical properties at 1.54 μm has been investigated in yttrium-erbium disilicate thin films synthesized by magnetron co-sputtering and implanted with two Bi different doses. The Bi depth distribution and the evolution of its oxidation states after annealing treatments at 1000 °C in two atmospheres, O2 and N2, have been investigated. It was found that only in O2 the Bi3+ valence state is prevalent, thanks to the enhanced Bi mobility in the oxidizing ambient, as demonstrated by Rutherford backscattering spectrometry. At lower Bi content, although the formation of Bi0 metallic nanoparticles that are deleterious non radiative channels for Er luminescence, efficient energy transfer from Bi to Er has been obtained only in O2. It is due to the excitation of ultraviolet broad Bi3+ absorption band and the energy transfer to Er ions. We have evaluated that in this case, Er effective excitation cross section increased by a factor of 5 in respect with the one for direct Er absorption at 488 nm. At higher Bi dose, this mechanism is absent, but an increased Er optical efficiency at 1.54 μm has been observed under resonant excitation. It is due to the contribution of a fraction of Er ions having an increased lifetime. This phenomenon is associated with the formation of Bi agglomerates, induced at higher Bi doses, which well isolate Er from non-radiative quenching centers. The increased decay time assures higher optical efficiency at 1.54 μm.

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