Dysprosium-doped metal chloride materials offer laser properties advantageous for use as optical amplifiers in the 1.3 .mu.m telecommunications fiber optic network. The upper laser level is characterized by a millisecond lifetime, the host material possesses a moderately low refractive index, and the gain peak occurs near 1.31 .mu.m. Related halide materials, including bromides and iodides, are also useful. The Dy.sup.3+ -doped metal chlorides can be pumped with laser diodes and yield 1.3 .mu.m signal gain levels significantly beyond those currently available.
The U.S. Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.