The fabrication of future interconnects in integrated circuits requires insulators with decreasing dielectric constants in order to maintain or improve the electrical performance of such devices. This is achieved through the introduction of air in the form of porosity. However, such porous materials suffer from two major drawbacks: lower mechanical properties and decreasing plasma resistance. In this paper we discuss the design of novel low-k materials, the structure/porosity effect on plasma damage and emerging solutions envisioned to mitigate these issues. © 2013 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.