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This letter presents evidence of an oxidation-driven failure mechanism in Cu interconnects integrated with ultralow-κ materials. It is found that the open pore structure of ultralow-κ materials allows oxidants in the ambient to reach the interconnect structure and induce oxidation of Cu. In contrast to a normal oxidation process where Cu is in contact with the oxidant, oxidation is controlled by the outdiffusion of Cu through the barrier layers, Ta and SiCN, to form Cu oxide in the pores of the dielectric material. The loss of Cu by outdiffusion induces extensive voiding and subsequent failure in Cu interconnects. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.