G. Sánchez-Sanz, L. Seijo, and Z. Barandiarán.
Yb2+ -doped SrCl2 Electronic structure of impurity states and impurity-trapped excitons.
First-principles electronic structure calculations of the excited states of Yb2+-doped SrCl2 crystals up to 65000cm−1 reveal the existence of unexpected excited states with double-well potential energy surfaces and dual electronic structure lying above and very close in energy to the 4f135d manifold, with which they interact strongly through spin-orbit coupling. The double-well energy curves result from avoided crossings between Yb-trapped exciton states (more stable at short Yb–Cl distances) and 4f136s impurity states (more stable at long Yb–Cl distances); the former are found to be preionization states in which the impurity holds the excited electron in close lying empty interstitials located outside the YbCl8 moiety. Spin-orbit coupling between the double-well states and the lower lying 4f135d impurity states spreads the dual electronic structure character to lower energies and, hence, the instability of the divalent oxidation state is also spread. To some extent, the dual electronic structure (impurity-trapped exciton–impurity state) of some excited states expresses and gives support to hypotheses of interaction between Yb2+ and Yb3+ pairs proposed to understand the complex spectroscopy of the material and conciliates these hypotheses with interpretations in terms of the existence of only one type of Yb2+ defect. The results presented confirm the presence of impurity states of the 4f136s configuration among the 4f135d manifolds, as proposed in literature, but their energies are very different from those assumed. The Yb-trapped excitons found in this chloride host can be seen as precursors of the luminescent Yb-trapped excitons characterized experimentally in the isomorphous SrF2 crystals.