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A technique for measuring the instantaneous spectrum of a semiconductor laser is described. Spectral fluctuations of several different devices, including three different length channel-substrate buried-crescent lasers emitting at 1.52 μm were examined. The shortest (100-μm) device showed a trend towaxds single-mode operation, and it is believed that devices of up to 70-μm length should emit predominantly in one longitudinal mode. Mode selection effects, thought to be due to reflections from the monitor diode, were observed in a 1.3-μm packaged laster. The technique has also been used to measure correlations between successive pulses, and between spectral width and mean position.