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Curved waveguides are used as a lateral spatial mode filter to increase the threshold for the first-order mode in high-power narrow stripe semiconductor lasers. Beam propagation analysis is used to determine optimal waveguide geometries and radii of curvature to establish appropriate amounts of bend loss. Curved waveguide devices are fabricated and compared against conventional devices. Use of a curved waveguide increases the current level at which lateral beam instabilities occur from ∼400 to ∼700 mA with no decline in slope efficiency.