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We propose a current confinement structure which can be self-formed by thermal annealing of a electrode metal with a self-aligning process. The migrated metal selectively destroys an AlAs/InP tunnel junction to form a high resistance isolation layer. The hole current can be injected through a preserved tunnel junction window. We confirmed its lateral confinement effect from the near-field pattern of fabricated GaInAsP/InP stripe lasers. The proposed current confinement structure is very simple and useful for the lateral injection in semiconductor optical devices including long-wavelength vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.