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Very high conversion efficiency (6.5 dB for 23.4 nm down-wavelength shift and 4.5 dB for 16 nm up-wavelength shift) is reported, using four-wave mixing in a bulk semiconductor optical amplifier. Based on a dual pump configuration where wavelength conversion is achieved by shifting one of the pumps, superior performance has been achieved in terms of both efficiency and the converted signal-to-background amplified spontaneous emission noise ratio, especially for very large wavelength shifts. Simple theoretical considerations are also discussed for the explanation of the improved performance of the converter. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.