Achieving clean surfaces is a major and challenging requirement for the study of surfaces and surface reactions. We describe the use of synchrotron radiation (SR) to probe the electronic structure of the gallium nitride (GaN) (0001) surface that has undergone wet chemical cleaning sequences followed by heating. By using SR in the range of 200–1000 eV the core levels of Ga, N, O, and C are monitored. Immersion in a 4:1 solution of sulfuric acid (51%) to hydrogen peroxide (30%) followed by a 700 °C (200 °C below decomposition temperature) vacuum anneal (⩽10−10Torr) results in a reduction of carbon and oxygen coverage to a few percent of a monolayer. This suggests a weakly bound oxide of carbon being chemisorbed to the GaN surface after the sulfuric acid/hydrogen peroxide treatment and it is removed by the heating.

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