The effect of counterdoping on the Be dopant distribution in delta (δ)-doped layers embedded in Si-doped and intrinsic GaAs is investigated by cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscopy. δ-doped layers in intrinsic GaAs exhibit a large spreading, whereas those surrounded by Si-doped GaAs remain spatially localized. The different spreading is explained by the Fermi-level pinning at the growth surface, which leads to an increased Ga vacancies concentration with increasing Si counterdoping. The Ga vacancies act as sinks for the diffusing Be dopant atoms, hence retarding the spreading.

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