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InGaAs strained epitaxial layers on GaAs are of considerable interest in semiconductor devices. An important feature is the critical thickness of the epitaxial layer beyond which relaxation occurs, affecting the device performance. With this in view, a series of such structures have been grown by organometallic vapor phase epitaxy and characterized by ion channeling, high resolution x-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy. The results of these three techniques are compared for the samples in this study which are fully strained, nominally and by experimental measurements. Beam steering effect that occurs at low energy channeling is also addressed. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.