Experimental evidence of population inversion and amplified spontaneous emi
ssion was found for Si nanocrystallites embedded in SiO2 surrounding under
pumping with 5 ns light pulses at 380, 400, and 500 nm. As an important pro
perty, our experiments show a short lifetime of the population inversion al
lowing a generation of short (a few nanosecond) amplified light pulses in t
he Si/SiO2 lattice. The estimate for optical gain in the present samples is
6 cm(-1) at 720 nm. (C) 2001 American Institute of Physics.