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We present the fabrication and characterization of metal-semiconductor-metal (MSM) photodiodes using the same undoped GaAs layer that is used as a buffer layer in the epitaxial structure for GaAs field effect transistors (FET's). To study the dark current mechanism, various metal electrodes used for Schottky contacts are examined. A drastic V-shape relationship between the dark current of MSM photodiode and the Schottky barrier height is found. An extremely low dark current (a few nanoamperes) in the MSM photodiode is obtained by using tungsten silicide as electrode metal. It is concluded that the dark current is a function of a rivalry relation between the electron injection at the cathode and the hole injection at the anode. The internal gain of the MSM photodiode with tungsten silicide contacts is found, and possible mechanisms are discussed. A flat frequency response up to 1.3 GHz is obtained. The results shows the feasibility of MSM photodiodes for use as photodetectors with low minimum detectable power, and their applicability to monolithic integration with FET circuits.