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Microfabrication in free-standing gallium nitride using UV laser micromachining

Gu, E. and Howard, H. and Conneely, A. and O'Connor, G.M. and Illy, E.K. and Knowles, M.R.H. and Edwards, P.R. and Martin, R.W. and Watson, I.M. and Dawson, M.D. (2006) Microfabrication in free-standing gallium nitride using UV laser micromachining. Applied Surface Science, 252 (13). pp. 4897-4901. ISSN 0169-4332

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Gallium nitride (GaN) and related alloys are important semiconductor materials for fabricating novel photonic devices such as ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). Recent technical advances have made free-standing GaN substrates available and affordable. However, these materials are strongly resistant to wet chemical etching and also, low etch rates restrict the use of dry etching. Thus, to develop alternative high-resolution processing for these materials is increasingly important. In this paper, we report the fabrication of microstructures in free-standing GaN using pulsed UV lasers. An effective method was first developed to remove the re-deposited materials due to the laser machining. In order to achieve controllable machining and high resolution in GaN, machining parameters were carefully optimised. Under the optimised conditions, precision features such as holes (through holes, blind or tapered holes) on a tens of micrometer length scale have been machined. To fabricate micro-trenches in GaN with vertical sidewalls and a flat bottom, different process strategies of laser machining were tested and optimised. Using this technique, we have successfully fabricated high-quality micro-trenches in free-standing GaN with various widths and depths. The approach combining UV laser micromachining and other processes is also discussed. Our results demonstrate that the pulsed UV laser is a powerful tool for fabricating precision microstructures and devices in gallium nitride.