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New high power monolithic surface emitting laser diodes (SELDs) are used for the optical pumping of an Nd:YAG slab. The optical SELD pulse characteristics are 6.8 mJ at 100 Hz, 808 nm emission at room temperature, 10 mm2 emitting surface. In the free-running mode, the laser delivers up to 550 mu J energy per pulse. In the Q-switch mode, 2.9 kW peak power per pulse is achieved.