For laser performance simulations, optical properties of applied active materials have to be exactly known. Here we report on temperature dependent emission and absorption cross section measurements for Yb:YAG, Yb:CaF2 and Yb:FP15-glass. The temperature of the samples was aligned in steps of 20 K between 100 K and room temperature with a liquid nitrogen driven cryostat. Absorption spectra were obtained with a fiber coupled white light source and fluorescence spectra by excitation with a fiber coupled 10W laser diode at 970 nm. All spectral measurements were performed with a scanning spectrum analyzer, providing a spectral resolution down to 0.05 nm. By applying the McCumber relation in combination with the Fuchtbauer-Ladenburg method, we were able to obtain a valid emission cross section over the whole range of interest from the measured data.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.