We report on the atypical emission dynamics of InAs/AlGaInAs/InP quantum dash (Qdash) lasers employing varying AlGaInAs barrier thickness (multilayer-chirped structure). The analysis is carried out via fabry-perot (FP) ridge (RW) and stripe waveguide (SW) laser characterization corresponding to the index and gain guided waveguiding mechanisms, respectively, and at different current pulse width operations. The laser emissions are found to emerge from the size dispersion of the Qdash ensembles across the four Qdash-barrier stacks, and governed by their overlapping quasi-zero dimensional density of states (DOS). The spectral characteristics demonstrated prominent dependence on the waveguiding mechanism at quasi-continuous wave (QCW) operation (long pulse width). The RW geometry showed unusual spectral split in the emission spectra on increasing current injection while the SW geometry showed typical broadening of lasing spectra. These effects were attributed to the highly inhomogeneous active region, the nonequilibrium carrier distribution and the energy exchange between Qdash groups across the Qdash-barrier stacks. Furthermore, QCW operation showed a progressive red shift of emission spectra with injection current, resulted from active region heating and carrier depopulation, which was observed to be minimal in the short pulse width (SPW) operation. Our investigation sheds light on the device physics of chirped Qdash laser structure and provides guidelines for further optimization in obtaining broad-gain laser diodes. © (2013) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.