Improving and controlling the efficiency of a gain medium is one of the most challenging problems of laser research. By measuring the gain length in an opal based photonic crystal doped with laser dye, we demonstrate that optical amplification is more than twenty-fold enhanced along the Gamma-K symmetry directions of the face centered cubic photonic crystal. These results are theoretically explained by directional variations of the density of states, providing a quantitative connection between density of the states and light amplification.

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