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The remote hydrogen plasma passivation of semi‐insulating InP substrates has been investigated by in situ spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE), to characterize the changes of InP morphology, and ex situ photoluminescence (PL) to reveal the passivation effect of nonradiative centers operated by H atoms. The concurrence of the InP native oxide removal without surface damage (phosphorus ablation) and the passivation by H‐atoms results in a remarkable enhancement of the PL intensity. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.