ABSTRACT This thesis focuses on structural characterizations and optical properties of Si, Ge based semiconductor alloys. Two material systems are characterized: Si-based III-V/IV alloys, which represent a possible pathway to augment the optical performance of elemental silicon as a solar cell absorber layer, and Ge-based Ge1-ySny and Ge1-x-ySixSny systems which are applicable to long wavelength optoelectronics. Electron microscopy is the primary tool used to study structural properties. Electron Energy Loss spectroscopy (EELS), Ellipsometry, Photoluminescence and Raman Spectroscopy are combined to investigate electronic band structures and bonding properties. The experiments are closely coupled with structural and property modeling and theory. A series of III-V-IV alloys have been synthesized by the reaction of M(SiH3)3 (M = P, As) with Al atoms from a Knudsen cell. In the AlPSi3 system, bonding configurations and elemental distributions are characterized by scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM)/EELS and correlated with bulk optical behavior. The incorporation of N was achieved by addition of N(SiH3)3 into the reaction mixture yielding [Al(As1-xNx)]ySi5-2yalloys. A critical point analysis of spectroscopic ellipsometry data reveals the existence of direct optical transitions at energies as low as 2.5 eV, well below the lowest direct absorption edge of Si at 3.3 eV. The compositional dependence of the lowest direct gap and indirect gap in Ge1-ySny alloys extracted from room temperature photoluminescence indicates a crossover concentration of yc =0.073, much lower than virtual crystal approximation but agrees well with large atomic supercells predictions. A series of Ge-rich Ge1-x-ySixSny samples with a fixed 3-4% Si content and progressively increasing Sn content in the 4-10% range are grown and characterized by electron microscopy and photoluminescence. The ternary represents an attractive alternative to Ge1-ySny for applications in IR optoelectronic technologies.