In semiconductor lasers, key parameters such as threshold current, efficiency, wavelength, and lifetime are closely related to temperature. These dependencies are especially important for high-power lasers, in which device heating is the main cause of decreased performance and failure. Heat sources such as non-radiative recombination in the active region typically cause the temperature to be highly peaked within the device, potentially leading to large refractive index variation with bias. Here we apply high-resolution charge-coupled device (CCD) thermoreflectance to generate two dimensional (2D) maps of the facet temperatures of a high power laser with 500 nm spatial resolution. The device under test is a slab-coupled optical waveguide laser (SCOWL) which has a large single mode and high power output. These characteristics favor direct butt-coupling the light generated from the laser diode into a single mode optical fiber. From the high spatial resolution temperature map, we can calculate the non-radiative recombination power and the optical mode size by thermal circuit and finite-element model (FEM) respectively. Due to the thermal lensing effect at high bias, the size of the optical mode will decrease and hence the coupling efficiency between the laser diode and the single mode fiber increases. At I=10Ith, we found that the optical mode size has 20% decrease and the coupling efficiency has 10% increase when comparing to I=2Ith. This suggests SCOWL is very suitable fr optical communication system.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.