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Epi-down and epi-up bonded high-power single-mode 980-nm lasers have been studied in terms of bonding process, thermal behavior, optical performances, and long-term laser reliability. We demonstrated that epi-down bonding can offer lower thermal resistance and improved optical performance without degrading the long-term laser reliability. An optical power of 630 mW was obtained for the first time from an epi-down bonded 980-nm pump module. Our studies have shown that epi-down bonding of single-mode 980-nm lasers can reduce junction temperature and thermal resistance by up to 30%. Experimental measurements showed over 20% in thermal rollover power improvement and over 25% reduction in wavelength shift versus current in epi-down mounted lasers compared to epi-up mounted lasers. Lifetime test over 14 000 h at 500 mA and 80°C of the epi-down bonded lasers is reported for the first time.