The 1.54 μm Er3+ photoluminescent properties of erbium-doped Si/SiO2 superlattices are investigated. Two superlattice films, one with erbium in Si layers and the other with erbium in SiO2 layers, were prepared by electron cyclotron resonance plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition of SiH4 and O2 with cosputtering of erbium and subsequent rapid thermal anneal. Both display Er3+ luminescence, but it is stronger with longer luminescent lifetime and less temperature quenching when erbium is in the SiO2 layer. The results demonstrate that by using quantum structures, nonradiative deexcitation of Er3+ may be suppressed, and that carrier recombination events, which excite Er3+ ions, may be physically separated from Er atoms and still lead to an efficient Er3+ luminescence. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.