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The maximum optical gain and the spontaneous noise enhancement factor in quantum well structures are expressed as extremely simple functions that are accurate over a wide range of carrier densities. These expressions are used to study the effect of doping on the optical gain and the noise enhancement factor in a 100 Å InGaAs/InP quantum well structure. n‐type doping is most effective in reducing the transparency excitation level (laser threshold) and the noise enhancement factor (amplifier noise figure), whereas p‐type doping enables increased gain at a given excitation level.