Inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etching of GaAs, GaP, and InP is reported as a function of plasma chemistry, chamber pressure, rf power, and source power. Etches were characterized in terms of rate and anisotropy using scanning electron microscopy, and root-mean-square surface roughness using atomic force microscopy. ICP etch rates were compared to electron cyclotron resonance etch rates for Cl2/Ar, Cl2/N2, BCl3/Ar, and BCl3/N2 plasmas under similar plasma conditions. High GaAs and GaP etch rates (exceeding 1500 nm/min) were obtained in Cl2-based plasmas due to the high concentration of reactive Cl neutrals and ions generated as compared to BCl3-based plasmas. InP etch rates were much slower and independent of plasma chemistry due to the low volatility of the InClx etch products. The surface morphology for all three materials was smooth over a wide range of etch conditions.

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