Patterning of light-extraction nanostructures on sapphire substrates using nanoimprint and ICP etching with different masking materials

Hao Chen, Qi Zhang, Stephen Y. Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Sapphire nanopatterning is the key solution to GaN light emitting diode (LED) light extraction. One challenge is to etch deep nanostructures with a vertical sidewall in sapphire. Here, we report a study of the effects of two masking materials (SiO2 and Cr) and different etching recipes (the reaction gas ratio, the reaction pressure and the inductive power) in a chlorine-based (BCl3 and Cl2) inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etching of deep nanopillars in sapphire, and the etching process optimization. The masking materials were patterned by nanoimprinting. We have achieved high aspect ratio sapphire nanopillar arrays with a much steeper sidewall than the previous etching methods. We discover that the SiO2 mask has much slower erosion rate than the Cr mask under the same etching condition, leading to the deep cylinder-shaped nanopillars (122 nm diameter, 200 nm pitch, 170 nm high, flat top, and a vertical sidewall of 80° angle), rather than the pyramid-shaped shallow pillars (200 nm based diameter, 52 nm height, and 42° sidewall) resulted by using Cr mask. The processes developed are scalable to large volume LED manufacturing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number085302
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 27 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • ICP etching
  • LED light extraction
  • SiO mask
  • nanoimprint
  • sapphire nanopattern

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