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This article presents a study of the issues in integrating the pattern, fill, planarization, and surface cleanup processes to design a shallow trench isolation (STI) flow suitable for 0.25 μm complementary metal–oxide semiconductor technologies. Technological choices and their effects on the characteristics of the STI technology are discussed. Experimental data are presented to illustrate how process choices at various stages of the STI flow are made to optimize the STI structure. © 1997 American Vacuum Society.