This study evaluates variations in SiCl4 reactive ion etching (RIE) process parameters in order to optimize the fabrication of lateral quantum well arrays (QWA) used in III–V semiconductor laser and detector designs. Since fabrication involves MBE regrowth on SiCl4 etched surfaces, material quality of both the etched surface and GaAs regrowth are evaluated. The variation of RIE parameters involved power levels, DC bias and etch times (10 Watts, -30V, 8 min.; 25 Watts, -100V, 5 min.; 95 Watts,-340V, 2 min.) while material removal was held constant (400nm). Evaluation of the etched surfaces revealed that the lattice damage depth exceeded lOOnm for all power levels. The extent of disorder beneath the etched surface was less for the low power long etch time. Etching at higher power levels for shorter time periods resulted in smoother surfaces and enhanced electrical characteristics, which in turn yielded a higher quality GaAs regrowth region. For the RIE parameters examined in this study, the variation in defect densities seemed to have a lesser effect on device performance as compared to the extreme differences in surface morphologies. Thus, for the parameters evaluated in this work, we suggest that QWA fabrication is optimized via SiClif RIE at the high power level for a short time period.