Erbium energy levels in GaN grown by hydride vapor phase epitaxy
Erbium doped GaN (Er:GaN) is a promising candidate as a novel gain medium for solid-state high energy lasers (HELs) due to its superior physical properties over a synthetic garnet such as Nd:YAG. Er:GaN emits in the 1.5 μm region, which is retina-safe and has a high transmission in the air. We report photoluminescence (PL) studies performed on Er:GaN epilayers synthesized by the hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE) technique. The room temperature PL spectra of HVPE grown Er:GaN epilayers resolved as many as 11 and seven emission lines in the 1.5 μm and 1.0 μm wavelength regions, respectively, corresponding to the intra-4f shell transitions between Stark levels from the first (4I13/2) and the second (4I11/2) excited states to the ground state (4I15/2) of Er3+ in GaN. The observed peak positions of these transitions enabled the construction of the detailed energy levels in Er:GaN. The results agree well with those of the calculation based on a crystal field analysis. Precise determination of the detailed energy levels of the Stark levels in the 4I11/2, 4I13/2, and 4I15/5 states is critically important for the realization of HELs based on Er:GaN.