Electron cyclotron resonance plasma etch rates for GaN, InN, InAlN, AlN, and InGaN were measured for a new plasma chemistry, ICl/Ar. The effects of gas chemistry, microwave and rf power on the etch rates for these materials were examined. InN proved to be the most sensitive to the plasma composition and ion density. The GaN, InN, and InGaN etch rates reached ∼13 000, 11 500, and ∼7000 Å/min, respectively, at 250 W rf (−275 V dc) and 1000 W microwave power. The etched surface of GaN was found to be smooth, with no significant preferential loss of N from the surface at low rf powers, and no significant residue on the surface after etching. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.