Surface Chemistry of III-V Semiconductors After Wet Etching with HCl and H2O2
In this work, we perform a comparative study of the etching of the (100) crystal plane of GaAs, InAs, InP, GaSb, and InSb. The selective etching of these materials was studied as a function of H2O2 concentration (0.0001-5 M) and at a fixed HCl concentration (0.01 M). The etching rate was determined by profilometry measurements made on wafers patterned with conventional photolithography. The chemical composition of the surfaces after etching was studied with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and the final roughness was characterized with atomic force microscopy (AFM). The etching rate of GaAs and InAs (same group V atom) showed a volcano-shaped dependence on H2O2 concentration (0.01 to 1 M). A maximum etching rate was observed at 0.1 M with a value of 1.1±0.1 nm/s for GaAs and 0.9±0.3 nm/s for InAs. For 1 M H2O2, the etching rate decreased to 0.035±0.010 nm/s for GaAs and 0.26±0.13 nm/s for InAs. The etching rate of InP increased when the H2O2 concentration was changed from 0.01 to 0.1 M, and showed no significant increase for higher concentrations within the error of the measurements. The etching selectivity of GaAs to InP increased from about 55 at 0.01 M H2O2 to 137 at 0.1 M H2O2, and then decreased to 4 at 1 M H2O2. The etching rate of GaSb and InSb (same group V atom) increased linearly between 0.0001 and 0.001 M H2O2, but dropped significantly at higher concentrations. These substrates were visibly oxidized at high H2O2 concentrations and HCl etching was unable to keep up with the rate of oxidation. Substrates with the same group V atom exhibited similar etching trends in the range of H2O2 and HCl concentrations studied. This suggests that the removal of the group V atom is the rate limiting step in the etching of these materials. Temperature programmed desorption (TPD) of a GaAs sample after immersion in HCl showed that the surface was terminated by As-Cl bonds. These results along with the chemical composition of the samples after etching will be used to propose reaction mechanisms of III-V semiconductors in HCl and H2O2 mixtures.