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Use of thulium-sensitized rare earth-doped low phonon energy crystalline hosts for IR sources

Joseph Ganem1* and Steven R Bowman2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physics, Loyola University Maryland, 4501 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA

2 Optical Sciences Division, Naval Research Laboratory, 4555 Overlook Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20375, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:455  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-455

Published: 1 November 2013


Crystalline hosts with low phonon energies enable novel energy transfer processes when doped with rare earth ions. Two applications of energy transfer for rare earth ions in thulium-sensitized low phonon energy crystals that result in infrared luminescence are discussed. One application is an endothermic, phonon-assisted cross-relaxation process in thulium-doped yttrium chloride that converts lattice phonons to infrared emission, which raises the possibility of a fundamentally new method for achieving solid-state optical cooling. The other application is an optically pumped mid-IR phosphor using thulium-praseodymium-doped potassium lead chloride that converts 805-nm diode light to broadband emission from 4,000 to 5,500 nm. These two applications in chloride crystals are discussed in terms of critical radii calculated from Forster-Dexter energy transfer theory. It is found that the critical radii for electric dipole-dipole interactions in low phonon energy chloride crystals are comparable to those in conventional oxide and fluoride crystals. It is the reduction in multi-phonon relaxation rates in chloride crystals that enable these additional energy transfer processes and infrared luminescence.