The surface morphology of an LED light emitting surface is changed by applying a reactive ion etch (RIE) process to the light emitting surface. High aspect ratio, submicron roughness is formed on the light emitting surface by transferring a thin film metal hard-mask having submicron patterns to the surface prior to applying a reactive ion etch process. The submicron patterns in the metal hard-mask can be formed using a low cost, commercially available nano-patterned template which is transferred to the surface with the mask. After subsequently binding the mask to the surface, the template is removed and the RIE process is applied for time duration sufficient to change the morphology of the surface. The modified surface contains non-symmetric, submicron structures having high aspect ratio which increase the efficiency of the device.