NiFe and NiFeCo were dry etched in inductively coupled plasma Cl2/Ar and CO/NH3 discharges, either with or without concurrent UV illumination from a Hg arc lamp. No enhancement was observed for CO/NH3 etching of the two materials, or for Cl2/Ar etching of NiFe. However, enhancements in etch rate of up to a factor of three were observed for Cl2/Ar etching of NiFeCo when ultraviolet (uv) illumination was employed. The etched surface morphologies were similar both with and without the UV irradiation. The etch rates in Cl2/Ar discharges were strongly correlated with the amount of chlorinated residues detected on the surface by Auger electron spectroscopy, indicating that the desorption of the metal chloride reaction products was the rate-limiting step in the etching.

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