Editorial Feature

Erbium Doped Glass Lasers – Properties and Applications

Erbium is a chemical element belonging to the category of rare earth metals. The trivalent ion of erbium (Er3+) is often used as the dopant for a number of glass and crystal lasers. Erbium is doped onto a glass substrate (made of silica or phosphate) and used for bulk lasers, amplifiers and fiber lasers.

Erbium-doped lasers require significant excitation density of the ions; typically the laser exhibits a high threshold of pump power. This laser is available in rod, plate, chip and optical fiber forms. When silica substrate is doped with erbium the multi-phonon transition is faster. In order to increase the absorption energy of the laser, it is co-doped with chromium or ytterbium. The Er:glass lasers are known as ‘eye safe’ lasers because their emission wavelengths are absorbed by the eye lens and do not reach the retina.

The physical properties and applications of this laser are discussed in the sections below.

Laser Properties

Laser Properties
Laser type Solid
Pump source Laser Diode
Operating wavelength 1.53-1.56 µm

Physical and Chemical Properties

Physical and Chemical Properties
Chemical formula Er:Glass
Hardness,Knoop 380
Thermal conductivity 0.61 W/mK
Young's modulus 57.6 GPa


The primary application of the erbium-doped lasers is in medical procedures, where viewing with the eye is necessary. Typical medical application is in dermatology.

Some of the other applications of the erbium doped glass laser are listed below:

  • Optical fiber communication
  • Analytical instrumentation
  • Rangefinders
  • Optical amplifiers
  • Telecommunication.

Sources and Further Reading

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