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Oxygen‐based plasmas commonly used in resist stripping and multilayer resist patterning are contrasted to highlight the differences involved in these applications. Mechanisms for polymer etching are reviewed, with particular emphasis on silicon‐containing resists proposed for bilayer lithography. While silicon‐containing materials offer a simpler process than trilayer schemes for improving lithographic resolution, considerable differences in etch behavior among these materials have been observed. Further characterization and fundamental understanding are required before widespread acceptance of silicon‐containing resists is achieved.