We discuss the use of rate equations to analyze the sensitization of erbium luminescence by silicon nanoclusters. In applying the general form of second-order coupled rate-equations to the Si nanocluster-erbium system, we find that the photoluminescence dynamics cannot be described using a simple rate equation model. Both rise and fall times exhibit a stretched exponential behavior, which we propose arises from a combination of a strongly distance-dependent nanocluster-erbium interaction, along with the finite size distribution and indirect band gap of the silicon nanoclusters. Furthermore, the low fraction of erbium ions that can be excited nonresonantly is a result of the small number of ions coupled to nanoclusters
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