Abstract This study explores a series of optical, thermal, and structural properties based on 60P 2O 5–30ZnO–10Al 2O 3 (60P) glasses that doped with varied rare earth (RE) elements Yb 2O 3 and P 2O 5 components replaced by SiO 2. It was found that the glasses density decrease with SiO 2 concentration added to replace P 2O 5, whereas they increase with increased concentration of Yb 3+-doped. Moreover, the glasses transition temperature, softening temperature, and refractive index increase with Yb 3+ concentrations added, whereas the thermal expansion coefficient decreases. For the 60P glasses, 7 mol% Yb 2O 3 doped has the maximum fluorescence which is suppressed when Yb 2O 3 is doped up to 9 mol%. In addition, maximum lifetime was found to be 2.68 ms at an optimal Yb 3+-doping at 1 mol% for 53P 2O 5–7SiO 2–30ZnO–10Al 2O 3 glass.