Erbium, atomic no. 68, symbol Er, weight at 167.26, has application in glass coloring, as an amplifier in fiber optics, and in lasers for medical and dental use.
The Erbium ion has a very narrow absorption band coloring erbium salts pink. It is therefore used in eyeware and decorative glassware. It can neutralize discoloring impurities such as ferric ions and produce a neutral gray shade. It is used in a variety of glass products for this purpose.
It is particularly useful as an amplifier for fiber optic data transfer. Erbium lasers at the wavelength required to provide an efficient optical method of amplification, 1.55 microns. As shown below under recent research, many interesting developments are occurring in this area.
Lasers based on Er:YAG are ideally suited for surgical applications because of its ability to deliver energy without thermal build-up in tissue.