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Large-area wafer bonding of different III–V compound semiconductors in an ultrahigh vacuum background is demonstrated. The bonding procedure, the microstructure, and the mechanical strength of the bonded GaAs/InP and GaAs/GaP interfaces were studied. The cleaning procedure and the bonding were separated in order to avoid undesired artifacts and thermal stress at the interface. First, thermally generated atomic hydrogen was employed to clean the surfaces. Then, the wafers were brought into contact below 150 °C. At contact, the interface formed spontaneously over the whole wafer area without application of a mechanical load. Transmission electron microscopy showed the formation of atomically direct interfaces and misfit dislocation networks. The fracture surface energy was measured as being comparable to that of respective bulk materials. Heat treatments of the bonded GaAs/InP samples led to relaxation of the interfaces but also to the formation of nanoscopic voids in the interface plane and volume dislocations. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.