We have investigated a resonant refractive nonlinearity in a semiconductor waveguide by measuring intensity dependent phase shifts and bias-dependent recovery times. The measurements were performed on an optimized 750-μm-long AR coated buried heterostructure MQW p-i-n waveguide with a bandedge at 1.48 μm. Figure 1 shows the experimental arrangement. The mode-locked color center laser was tuned to 50 meV beyond the bandedge and 8 ps pulses with peak incident power up to 57 W were coupled into the waveguide. Some residual bandtail absorption remains at this wavelength and this is sufficient to cause carriers to be photogenerated and these give rise to a refractive nonlinearity, predominantly by plasma and bandfilling effects. A Fabry-Perot interferometer is used to measure the spectrum of the light which exits the waveguide. The nonlinearity within the guide causes self phase modulation (SPM) of the light and a study of the spectrum allows information to be recovered on the magnitude and recovery time of the nonlinear phase shift with a reasonable degree of accuracy. SPM spectra were recorded for a variety of pulse energies coupled into he unbiased waveguide. Figure 2 shows the resultant phase shift measured from the SPM spectra as a function of pulse energy. The relationship is a linear one, indicating that no saturation of the nonlinearity occurs for coupled pulse energies up to 230 pJ. A π phase shift, the minimum necessary for an all-optical switch, is obtained for a coupled pulse energy of 57 pJ while the maximum phase shift, 4 π, was measured for 230 pJ. The SPM spectra were highly asymmetric with pulse energy shifted to higher frequencies. Such spectra are characteristic of a slow, negative nonlinearity. This relatively slow speed is expected for the unbiased guide as the recovery time will be of the order of the recombination time of the photogenerated electrons, about 1 ns for InGaAsP material. In order to reduce the recovery time of the nonlinearity, it is necessary to remove the photogenerated carriers from the waveguide by a process other than recombination. One such technique is to apply a reverse bias to the waveguide in order to sweep the carriers out. Figure 3 shows the effect on the recovery time of the nonlinearity of applying reverse bias to the waveguide for 230 pJ coupled power. The recovery time was reduced from one much longer than the length of the pulse, estimated to be about 1 ns, at zero bias to 18 ± 3 ps for a bias voltage greater than -4 V. This compares with a value of 24 ps obtained in a bulk waveguide.