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We report on the switching‐on characteristics of a bistable two‐section laser diode triggered by subnanosecond optical input pulses. Minimum switching energy as a function of current bias level was measured for different input pulse wavelengths. Subnanosecond and subpicojoule switching was obtained. Estimating the input coupling to be 10%, the lowest bistable switching energy recorded was 23 fJ. The fastest recorded rise time was less than 100 ps.