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Numerical results are presented on the evolution of thermal stresses in metal interconnects. Finite element analyses are carried out for a series of parallel aluminum lines embedded within silicon dioxide. The effects of line aspect ratio on the longitudinal and hydrostatic stresses in lines are investigated, for various spaces between lines. Comparisons with the results based on an isolated line under passivation are also made. It is shown that, contrary to what was frequently found by employing the single-line approach, maximum stresses in periodically arranged aluminum lines do not occur when the line width and the line height are approximately equal. The variation of stresses with line aspect ratio is affected by the spacing between lines. Implications of the present findings to the modeling of stresses and to the damage evolution through void formation are discussed. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.