Electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) plasma etching characteristics of gallium nitride (GaN) are investigated using low pressure (4-10 mTorr) SiCl4/Ar and Cl2/H2/Ar ECR discharges. The purpose of this effort is to develop a dry etching process for making laser mirrors on GaN and to examine dry etching processes of GaN that do not require hydrogen, which is known to cause carrier compensation in GaN. The etch rate is found to increase near-linearly with increasing DC bias, and a minimum DC bias of 100V is required to initiate etching in SiCl4/Ar. We have also found that the material quality significantly affects the etch rate. The latter decreases with x-ray rocking curve half-width and increases with defect density. A reasonable etch rate of 660Ǻ/min and good surface morphologies obtained in SiCl/Ar ECR etching make this process suitable for gate recess of an FET. An etch rate of 5270Ǻ/min has been achieved in Cl2/H2/Ar plasmas. This is the highest reported etch rate of GaN so far. The smooth and vertical etch sidewalls (etch to mask selectivity of 16 is obtained) make this process promising for dry-etched laser mirrors on GaN.
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Zhang, L., Ramer, J., Brown, J. et al. Electron cyclotron resonance etching characteristics of GaN in plasmas with and without hydrogen. MRS Online Proceedings Library 395, 763–767 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-395-763