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The F7/22↔F5/22 optical transitions of Yb3+ doped into Y3Al5O12 (YAG) were studied for potential quantum information and photonic signal processing applications. Absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy located the energy levels of the ground F7/22 and excited F5/22 manifolds, allowing inconsistencies between previous assignments of crystal field splittings in the literature to be resolved. These measurements reveal an unusually large splitting between the first and second levels in both the ground and excited multiplets, potentially providing for reduced sensitivity to thermally induced decoherence and spin-lattice relaxation. Spectral hole burning through two-level saturation was observed, determining the excited state lifetime to be 860 μs and resolving ambiguities in previous fluorescence measurements that were caused by the large radiation trapping effects in this material. Optical decoherence measurements using two-pulse photon echoes gave a homogeneous linewidth of 18 kHz for an applied magnetic field of 1 T, narrowing to 5 kHz at 2.5 T. The observed decoherence was described by spectral diffusion attributed to Yb3+−Yb3+ magnetic dipole interactions. Laser absorption determined an inhomogeneous linewidth of 3.6 GHz for this transition in this 0.05%-doped crystal, which is narrower than for any other rare-earth-ion transition previously studied in the YAG host. The temperature dependence of the transition energy and linewidth of the lowest F7/22 to lowest F5/22 transition centered at 968.571 nm measured from 4 K to 300 K was well described by phonon scattering at higher temperatures, with an additional anomalous linear temperature-dependent broadening at temperatures below 80 K. Two magnetically inequivalent subgroups of Yb3+ ions were identified when a magnetic field was applied along the ⟨111⟩ axis, as expected for the D2 sites in the cubic symmetry crystal, with ground and excited state effective g-values of gg=3.40 (3.34) and ge=1.04 (2.01), respectively. Together with the convenient diode laser wavelength of this transition, our study suggests that Yb3+:YAG is a promising material system for spectral hole burning and quantum information applications.


Copyright 2016 American Physical Society

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