The realization of photonic structures operating at visible and near infrared frequencies is a highly attractive scientific and technological challenge. Since optical fiber innovation, a huge of activity has been performed leading to interesting results, such as optical waveguides and planar lightwave circuits, microphotonic devices, optical microcavities, nanowires, plasmonic structures, and photonic crystals. These systems have opened new possibilities in the field of both basic and applied physics, in a large area covering Information Communication Technologies, Health and Biology, Structural Engineering, and Environment Monitoring Systems. Several materials and techniques are employed to successfully fabricate photonic structures. Concerning materials, Er3+-activated silica-based glasses still play an important role, although recently interesting results have been published about fluoride glass-ceramic waveguides. As far as regards the fabrication methods sol-gel route and rf sputtering have proved to be versatile and reliable techniques. In this article we will present a review of some
Er3+-activated photonic structures fabricated by sol gel route and rf sputtering deposition. In the discussion on the sol-gel approach we focus our attention on the silica-hafnia binary system presenting an overview concerning fabrication protocols and structural, optical and spectroscopic assessment of SiO2-HfO2 waveguides activated by Er3+ ions. In order to put in evidence the reliability and versatility of the sol-gel route for photonics applications four different confined structures are briefly presented: amorphous waveguides, coated microspheres, monolithic waveguide laser, and core-shell nanospheres. As examples of rf sputtering technique, we will discuss Er3+-activated silica-hafnia and silica-germania waveguides, the latter system allowing fabrication of integrated optics structures by UV photo-imprinting. Finally, two examples of photonic crystal structures, one prepared by sol-gel process and the other one fabricated by rf sputtering deposition, will be illustrated.