Reactive ion etching is the process of removing specifically targeted substances by means of chemical radicals created in a plasma discharge. In contrast to plasma cleaning / etching, which is a physical process relying on thermally hot (fast) ions, reactive ion etching is a purely chemical process, and in order to reduce unwanted damage to parts which are not targeted the ions should be as cold (slow) as possible. By selecting the correct gases / gas mixtures it is possible to determine what type of reactive radicals are produced, which makes reactive ion etching highly selective towards the targeted substances. Typical applications for reactive ion etching include:
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