More and more high- and low-k dielectrics are used in microfabrication today. However, as is well known, these materials are easily damaged during processing or during operation in a device. Sources of damage include plasma and/or VUV exposure, water uptake, free radicals as well as cosmic rays. A description of the damage effects on dielectrics from water uptake, plasma and/or VUV exposure, and neutron exposure is presented. Although the results for neutron exposure are presented for a high-k dielectric, HfO2, they can easily be extended to low-k dielectrics. © 2014 The Electrochemical Society.