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In previous studies it was reported that GaAs samples which were rapid thermal annealed exhibit bright bands adjacent to the surfaces in cathodoluminescence images of the cross sections. It is possible that the presence and depth of these bright bands are related to thermal stresses in the GaAs resulting from thermal gradients during heating and cooling. To investigate this possibility, a one‐dimensional mathematical model was developed to predict the temperatures through the thickness of the GaAs. Calculations of the thermal stress field show that the thermal stresses do not correlate with the depth of the bright bands.