Epitaxial lift-off process enables the separation of III-V device layers from gallium arsenide substrates and has been extensively explored to avoid the high cost of III-V devices by reusing the substrates. Conventional epitaxial lift-off processes require several post-processing steps to restore the substrate to an epi-ready condition. Here we present an epitaxial lift-off scheme that minimizes the amount of post-etching residues and keeps the surface smooth, leading to direct reuse of the gallium arsenide substrate. The successful direct substrate reuse is confirmed by the performance comparison of solar cells grown on the original and the reused substrates. Following the features of our epitaxial lift-off process, a high-throughput technique called surface tension-assisted epitaxial lift-off was developed. In addition to showing full wafer gallium arsenide thin film transfer onto both rigid and flexible substrates, we also demonstrate devices, including light-emitting diode and metal-oxide-semiconductor capacitor, first built on thin active layers and then transferred to secondary substrates. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.