Erbium and ytterbium co-doped SiO2 : GeO2 planar waveguide prepared by the sol-gel route using an alternative precursor
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The sol-gel method combined with a spin-coating technique has been successfully applied for the preparation of rare-earth doped silica:germania films used for the fabrication of erbium-doped waveguide amplifiers (EDWA), presenting several advantages over other methods for the preparation of thin films. As with other methods, the sol-gel route also shows some drawbacks, such as cracks related to the thickness of silica films and high hydrolysis rate of certain precursors such as germanium alkoxides. This article describes the preparation and optical characterization of erbium and ytterbium co-doped SiO2:GeO2 crack-free thick films prepared by the sol-gel route combined with a spin-coating technique using a chemically stable non-aqueous germanium oxide solution as an alternative precursor. The non-crystalline films obtained are planar waveguides exhibiting a single mode at 1,550 nm with an average thickness of 3.9 mu m presenting low percentages of porosity evaluated by the Lorentz-Lorenz Effective Medium Approximation, and low stress, according to the refractive index values measured in both transversal electric and magnetic polarizations. Weakly confining core layers (0.3% < Delta n < 0.75%) were obtained according to the refractive index difference between the core and buffer layers, suggesting that low-loss coupling EDWA may be obtained. The life time of the erbium I-4(13/2) metastable state was measured as a function of erbium concentration in different systems and based on these values it is possible to infer that the hydroxyl group was reduced and the formation of rare-earth clusters was avoided.