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A theoretical approach to nonplanar wave propagation through Bragg reflector multilayer structures is presented. The theory is applied to the optical coupling and feedback in a folded cavity surface emitting laser using a 45° deflection mirror-epitaxial Bragg reflector arrangement. The effects of the nonplanar wave propagation on the Bragg mirror reflectivity in vertical cavity surface emitting lasers is also examined. Experimental verification of the theory is presented in a novel folded cavity surface emitting laser structure integrating a horizontal cavity InGaAs-GaAs laser grown on a structured substrate with a high reflectivity Bragg reflector