The generation of ultrafast optical pulses from semiconductor diode lasers is extremely attractive owing to the compact and efficient properties of these devices. Applications of these devices range from photonic switching, electro-optic sampling optical computing, optical clocking, applied nonlinear optics and other areas of ultrafast laser technology. There have been many recent advances in ultrafast pulse generation from diode lasers in the past few years, with many researchers concentrating on device fabrication, device physics, theoretical modeling and systems applications. With the advent of high power semiconductor lasers devices, experimental results have shown the potential for generating relatively high peak power optical pulses from a semiconductor diode laser system. In this paper, the techniques and underlying physics involved in generating high power ultrashort optical pulses from semiconductor optical amplifiers will be covered. The main concepts that are to be stressed experimentally are: (1) the elimination of the residual facet reflectivity which causes multiple pulse outputs by using angled striped semiconductor traveling wave optical amplifiers, (2) generation of short pulses by using intracavity MQW saturable absorbers, (3) exploitation of the frequency chirp impressed on the pulse by performing pulse 'compression' techniques, and (4) creation of high output powers by amplification techniques.