To perform a thorough source optimization during process development is becoming more critical as we move to leading edge-technology nodes. With each new node the acceptable process margin continues to shrink as a result of lowering k1 factors. This drives the need for thorough source optimization prior to locking down a process in order to attain the maximum common depth of focus (DOF) the process will allow. Optical proximity correction (OPC) has become a process-enabling tool in lithography by providing a common process window for structures that would otherwise not have overlapping windows. But what effect does this have on the source optimization? With the introduction of immersion lithography there is yet another parameter, namely source polarization, that may need to be included in an illumination optimization process. This paper explored the effect polarization and OPC have on illumination optimization. The Calibre ILO (Illumination Optimization) tool was used to perform the illumination optimization and provided plots of DOF vs. various parametric illumination settings. This was used to screen the various illumination settings for the one with optimum process margins. The resulting illumination conditions were then implemented and analyzed at a full chip level. Based on these results, a conclusion was made on the impact source polarization and OPC would have on the illumination optimization process.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.