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Leakage properties of nitride-based photodetectors (PDs) subjected to inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etching has been investigated by using emission microscopy inspection (EMMI). ICP etching would cause significant damage to GaN metal-semiconductor-metal (MSM) PDs. The damage was proven to induce leakage current via the conductive surface of the device by using emission microscopy inspection. However, the surface damage of MSM PDs could be partially recovered by E-beam SiO2 passivation. As for the passivation for p-i-n photodetectors, the effect was not significant in the reduction of dark current due to smaller etched area as compared to the whole area of p-i-n PDs. The leakage current path analysis of p-i-n PDs by EMMI technique had also been investigated. Finally, the plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) SiO2 passivation was proven to be a potential process to improve the reliability of p-i-n PDs.