We review the development of a new class of high-power, edge-emitting, semiconductor optical gain medium based on the slab-coupled optical waveguide (SCOW) concept. We restrict the scope to InP-based devices incorporating either InGaAsP or InGaAlAs quantum-well active regions and operating in the 1.5-μm-wavelength region. Key properties of the SCOW gain medium include large transverse optical mode dimensions (>;5 × 5 μm), ultralow optical confinement factor (Γ ~ 0.25-1%), and small internal loss coefficient (α i ~ 0.5 cm-1). These properties have enabled the realization of 1) packaged Watt-class semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs) having low-noise figure (4-5 dB), 2) monolithic passively mode-locked lasers generating 0.25-W average output power, 3) external-cavity fiber-ring actively mode-locked lasers exhibiting residual timing jitter of