Most high power applications either production or defense oriented require good beam quality. A state-of-the-art review shows that current solid state lasers exhibit a clear deficiency as compared to well developed gas lasers. This may be overcome by the new concept of a diode pumped thin disc laser combining the advantages of low optical degradation of the laser medium and good output power scalability. This solid state laser benefits further from the shorter wavelength and better coupling efficiency for a wide range of materials. Yb:YAG is chosen as the preferred laser material because it primarily has a high quantum efficiency, guarantees good energy storage for pulsed operation, and exhibits a broad absorption line at 941 nm for easy and effective pumping with InGaAs diodes. Performance data of the thin disc laser are shown for output powers up tp 350 W CW with optical and slope efficiencies of 49% and 56%, respectively. Scalability of the concept is demonstrated by using a multiple disc design with a zig-zag stable resonator. Beam quality parameter, M2, has also been determined for al operation conditions. Best values of M2 equals 1.22 have been obtained for 100 W output power at 39% optical efficiency. In addition, passive mode locking and Q-switched operation are demonstrated. Finally, performance in alternative laser active materials (Nd:YAG, Nd:YVO4, Tm:YAG) is also presented.