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Atomic hydrogen modification of the surface energy of GaAs (110) epilayers, grown at high temperatures from molecular beams of Ga and As-4, has been investigated by friction force microscopy (FFM). The reduction of the friction force observed with longer exposures to the H beam has been correlated with the lowering of the surface energy originated by the progressive de-relaxation of the GaAs (110) surface occurring upon H chemisorption. Our results indicate that the H-terminated GaAs (110) epilayers are more stable than the As-stabilized ones, with the minimum surface energy value of 31 meV/angstrom(2) measured for the fully hydrogenated surface. A significant reduction of the Ga diffusion length on the H-terminated surface irrespective of H coverage has been calculated from the FFM data, consistent with the layer-by-layer growth mode and the greater As incorporation coefficient determined from real-time reflection high-energy electron diffraction studies. Arsenic incorporation through direct dissociative chemisorption of single As-4 molecules mediated by H on the GaAs (110) surface has been proposed as the most likely explanation for the changes in surface kinetics observed.