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The ultimate power limits of current diode-laser structures are considered, along with the prospects of new applications. After explaining how the physical geometry of a diode laser determines its performance, the author discusses the three methods that can relax the output-power limits imposed by the gradual or catastrophic degradation of the diode's mirror facets. Attention is given to ways of obtaining high powers at long wavelengths from InGaAsP lasers and the most powerful AlGaAs and InGaAsP devices now available are described. The use of arrays in overcoming present power limits is explained. Applications of high-power lasers in optical-disk recording, fiber-optic distribution networks, laser printers and space communications (satellite-to-satellite) are discussed.