Low Damage, High Anisotropy Inductively Coupled Plasma for Gallium Nitride based Devices

  • Youssef H. Ibrahim

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Group III-nitride semiconductors possess unique properties, which make them versatile materials for suiting many applications. Structuring vertical and exceptionally smooth GaN profiles is crucial for efficient optical device operation. The processing requirements for laser devices and ridge waveguides are stringent as compared to LEDs and other electronic devices. Due to the strong bonding and chemically inert nature of GaN, dry etching becomes a critical fabrication step. The surface morphology and facet etch angle are analyzed using SEM and AFM measurements. The influence of different mask materials is also studied including Ni as well as a SiO2 and resist bilayer. The high selectivity Ni Mask is found to produce high sidewall angles ~79°. Processing parameters are optimized for both the mask material and GaN in order to achieve a highly anisotropic, smooth profile, without resorting to additional surface treatment steps. An optimizing a SF6/O2 plasma etch process resulted in smooth SiO2 mask sidewalls. The etch rate and GaN surface roughness dependence on the RF power was also examined. Under a low 2mTorr pressure, the RF and ICP power were optimized to 150W and 300W respectively, such that a smooth GaN morphology and sidewalls was achieved with reduced ion damage. The The AFM measurements of the etched GaN surface indicate a low RMS roughness ranging from 4.75 nm to 7.66 nm.
Date of AwardMay 27 2013
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorBoon Ooi (Supervisor)


  • Gallium
  • Nitride
  • Inductively
  • Coupled
  • Plasma
  • Facets

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