The emergence of highly efficient short-wavelength laser diodes based on the III-V compound semiconductor GaN has not only enabled high-density optical data storage, but is also expected to revolutionize display applications. Moreover, a variety of scientific applications in biophotonics, materials research and quantum optics can benefit from these versatile and cost-efficient laser light sources in the near-UV to green spectral range. This thesis describes the device physics of GaN-based laser diodes, together with recent efforts to achieve longer emission wavelengths and short-pulse emission. Experimental and theoretical approaches are employed to address the individual device properties and optimize the laser diodes toward the requirements of specific applications.

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