The interaction of x-rays with organic dielectric materials, which alters their mechanical properties, affects values of stress generated within encapsulated Cu structures. In particular, the evolution of stress within submicron Cu interconnect structures encapsulated by an organosilicate glass can be investigated in situ using synchrotron-based x-ray diffraction. The overall geometry of the composite, along with the amount of irradiation, dictates the change in stress of the Cu features. A quantitative comparison of these findings to mechanical modeling results reveals two modes of modification within the dielectric film: a densification that changes the effective eigenstrain followed by an increase in elastic modulus. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.