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Reactive ion etch (RIE) of p-SiLK, a spin-on polymer based ultra low-k (ULK) material with a k value of ∼2.2 was characterized and its influence on electrical yield and dielectric breakdown is presented here. Material characterization was done using blanket films after curing and the effect of exposure to different conventional plasma etch gas mixtures was studied for surface composition, roughness and dielectric constant. Trench etch process was developed for 130-nm technology node for single damascene process integration. Dual hard mask approach was taken and two etch schemes viz., etching under hardmask and etching under photoresist were evaluated. In both schemes, trench etch profiles were near vertical and critical dimension (CD) control was within 10%. RIE lag and the carbon depletion at the sidewalls were found to be insignificant confirming acceptable etch process performance. Etching under photoresist scheme was found advantageous in terms of trench profile for isolated structures, reduced cycle time making the process cost effective and reduced post-CMP defects. However, from the comparison of electrical test results, etch under hardmask scheme showed higher electrical yield and better performance than etch under PR scheme. Although trench sidewalls were exposed to plasma during both schemes, sidewall damage did not contribute to overall leakage. The RIE process developed and the characterization results have confirmed the compatibility of material and RIE process for successful process integration.