Quadrupole mass spectrometry (QMS) has been used as an insitu diagnostic for GaAs etching with a Cl2/Ar plasma generated by an electron cyclotron resonance source. Partial pressure from reactive species and volatile etch products down to 10−10 Torr can be detected. AsCl+x (x=1–3) products have been detected from 6×6 mm2 GaAs samples. The 145AsCl+2 signal is generally the strongest. For an increase of microwave power from 50 to 400 W, the GaAs etch rate increased from 151 to 263 nm/min and the 145AsCl+2 partial pressure increased from 0.6×10−8 to 2.8×10−8 Torr. The effects of changing source distance, rf power, and pressure were also studied and the changes in etch rate can be correlated to the mass spectrometric intensities of AsCl+x. QMS has been used to monitor the etching of surface oxide on GaAs for different dc biases on the sample. It is found that the oxide etch time is a function of ion energy. For a self‐induced dc bias of −100 V, the 145AsCl+2 signal remained at 1.4×10−9 Torr for the first 15 s of etching. After the oxide was removed the signal increased to 5.5×10−9 Torr. O2 and N2 were added to determine the effects of residual gases in the plasma system. Adding 2.5% O2 in the Cl2/Ar discharge caused significant reduction in the etch rate from 171 to 43 nm/min and the 145AsCl+2 intensity was reduced from 8.0×10−9 Torr down to the noise level. For complete substitution of N2 for Ar the etch rate only dropped by 1/3 and the partial pressure of the etch products showed a similar decrease. O2 was added during an etch to determine the sensitivity of the mass spectrometer to changes in plasma conditions. The decrease in the 145AsCl+2 signal intensity follows the increase in the 16O+2 signal intensity with less than 2 s delay.

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