We have investigated plasma-induced damage of the inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etched surface of n-type GaN using Cl2/BCl3 chemistry. The surface morphology of the etched GaN under different plasma conditions is analyzed by atomic force microscopy. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy is used to correlate the chemical changes induced by plasma etching of the GaN surface. We have carried out photoluminescence measurements of etched GaN surfaces subjected to varying ICP conditions. The intensity of the band-edge and yellow luminescence transitions was used to evaluate the damage introduced into the semiconductor during dry etching. © 2001 American Vacuum Society.