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The energy and angular distribution of ions striking the electrodes in rf discharges are of interest with respect to the application of such discharges to the processing of semiconductor materials. The ability to fabricate small (≪ 1 μm) semiconductor features using the plasma etching process results, in part, from the energetic and anisotropic flux of ions which strike the semiconductor surface. In this paper the energy and angular distribution of ions striking the electrodes in low‐pressure capacitively coupled rf discharges are studied using a Monte Carlo model for ion trajectories and a parametric model for the time‐dependent electric field within the sheath. Energy and angular distributions are discussed as a function of rf frequency, ion mass, and the mean‐free path between charge exchange collisions within the sheath. The ion energy distribution is found to be characterized by a scaling parameter proportional to (rf frequency × sheath thickness)2 × ion mass/(sheath voltage); small values of this parameter yield bimodal distributions, intermediate values yield distributions peaked at the maximum sheath potential, and high values yield distributions peaked at the average sheath potential. The ion energy distribution is also examined for different values of the dc and rf components of the sheath potential and for different models for the electric field within the sheaths. When the dc component of the sheath potential is small compared to the rf amplitude, a large thermal component to the ion energy distribution results. The implication of this result and that for the angular distribution of ions incident on the electrodes is discussed with respect to the isotropy of the etch obtained during plasma etching of semiconductor materials.