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A laser diode structure realizing internal gain switching is suggested for high-power picosecond optical pulse generation. A thin wideband barrier layer is incorporated in the active region of this structure, in order to provide additional control of the carrier distribution and the gain dynamics. The dynamic laser output response to the nanosecond pumping current pulses is modeled and analyzed. The pulse generation mechanism is studied and the possibility to generate optical pulses with power density of 0.416 W/μm2 is demonstrated. This result compares well with that provided by the best modern picosecond laser diodes operating in Q-switching mode. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.