Resist trimming using a CF4/O2 plasma generated by an inductively coupled high-density plasma source is investigated. Results show that the resist trimming process is applicable for the fabrication of a sub-0.1 μm polysilicon gate electrode with conventional 248 nm lithography. The trim rate depends strongly on gas composition, temperature, rf source power, bias voltage, reactor pressure and total gas flow. The trim rate increases with increasing temperature, rf source power and reactor pressure but decreases with higher bias voltage. For a typical trimming condition at gas composition of CF4 and O2 with a ratio of 3.3:1, the resist trim rates are 1.0 and 1.2 nm/s for dense and isolated lines, respectively. By examining the effect of various process parameters, it is found that the trimming process is dominated by the neutral reactant species. Angle-resolved x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy shows that a fluorinated carbon oxyfluoride polymer is deposited on the sidewall of photoresist. The degree of carbon fluorination of the film is influenced by the process parameters. A more fluorinated film, obtained at lower bias voltage and higher source power, gives more trimming. © 2002 American Vacuum Society.