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Organo-erbium systems for optical amplification at telecommunications wavelengths


Modern telecommunications rely on the transmission and manipulation of optical signals. Optical amplification plays a vital part in this technology, as all components in a real telecommunications system produce some loss. The two main issues with present amplifiers, which rely on erbium ions in a glass matrix, are the difficulty in integration onto a single substrate and the need of high pump power densities to produce gain. Here we show a potential organic optical amplifier material that demonstrates population inversion when pumped from above using low-power visible light. This system is integrated into an organic light-emitting diode demonstrating that electrical pumping can be achieved. This opens the possibility of direct electrically driven optical amplifiers and optical circuits. Our results provide an alternative approach to producing low-cost integrated optics that is compatible with existing silicon photonics and a different route to an effective integrated optics technology.

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Figure 1: Optical spectra of organo-erbium materials.
Figure 2: Time dependence of erbium 4I13/24I15/2 photoluminescence from the doped film.
Figure 3: Schematics of the waveguide structure used for gain measurements.
Figure 4: Normalized electroluminescence from doped and undoped OLEDs.


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H.Y., Z.L. and Y.P. are financially supported by the China Scholarship Council and Queen Mary, University of London. I.H. acknowledges financial support from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the EU FP7 (Marie Curie-CIG-Grant 303535). P.B.W. thanks the EPSRC UK National Mass Spectrometry Facility at Swansea University for help in characterization of Zn(F-BTZ)2 and its precursors. Y.Z. acknowledges financial support from the Major State Basic Research Development Program (2013CB922101, 2011CB808704) and NSFC (21371093). W.P.G. acknowledges financial support from EPSRC (EP/K004484/1).

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Authors and Affiliations



H.Y. prepared samples, collected data and modelled the waveguides. Z.L., Y.P., Y.X.Z., Y.X., C.C.W. and T.Y.L. synthesized and characterized the materials. H.Y., A.S. and G.A. helped with the waveguide fabrication. Z.L. produced and characterized the OLEDs. P.B.W. directed the chemical synthesis programme. I.H. contributed to the strategy and directed the experiments. W.P.G. designed the study and wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Y. X. Zheng, I. Hernández, P. B. Wyatt or W. P. Gillin.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Ye, H., Li, Z., Peng, Y. et al. Organo-erbium systems for optical amplification at telecommunications wavelengths. Nature Mater 13, 382–386 (2014).

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