Dry etching of NiFeCo and NiFeAlOCo multilayers was carried out in inductively coupled Cl2Ar plasmas. An ion-enhanced etch mechanism took a critical role for desorption of chlorine etch products. NiFeAlOCo showed a faster etch rate than NiFeCo at various etch conditions. Anisotropic and smooth features were obtained using a photoresist mask. Sidewall contamination with etch products was observed at a higher Cl2 concentration (>50%). Postetch cleaning of the etched samples in deionized water reduced the chlorine residues substantially.

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