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The spectral dependence of the modal gain and linewidth enhancement factor is measured in an InAs/GaInAs/AlGaAs/GaAs quantum dot (QD) laser and a GaInAs/AlGaAs/GaAs quantum well laser of the same design lacking only the quantum dots. The material differential gain and material differential carrier induced refractive index are found to be about three times smaller in the quantum dot laser than in the quantum well laser. The linewidth enhancement factor is smaller in the QD laser and exhibits considerably less dispersion. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.