The continued growth of the semiconductor manufacturing industry has been due, in large part, to improved lithographic resolution and overlay across increasingly larger chip areas. Optical lithography continues to be the mainstream technology for the industry with extensions of optical lithography being employed to support 180 nm product and process development. While the industry momentum is behind optical extensions to 130 nm, the key challenge will be maintaining an adequate and affordable process latitude (depth of focus/exposure window) necessary for 10% post-etch critical dimension (CD) control. If the full potential of optical lithography is to be exploited, the current lithographic systems can not be compromised by incoming wafer quality. Impurity specifications of novel Low-k dielectric materials, plating solutions, chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP) slurries, and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) precursors are not well understood and more stringent control measures will be required to meet defect density targets as identified in the National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (NTRS). This paper identifies several specific poor quality wafer issues that have been effectively addressed as a result of the introduction of a set of flexible and reliable wafer back surface clean processes developed on the SEZ Spin-Processor 203 configured for processing of 200 mm diameter wafers. Patterned wafers have been back surface etched by means of a novel spin process contamination elimination (SpCE) technique with the wafer suspended by a dynamic nitrogen (N2) flow, device side down, via the Bernoulli effect. Figure 1 illustrates the wafer-chuck orientation within the process chamber during back side etch processing. This paper addresses a number of direct and immediate benefits to the MicraScan IIITM deep-ultraviolet (DUV) step-and-scan system at SEMATECH. These enhancements have resulted from the resolution of three significant problems: (1) back surface particle/residual contamination, (2) wafer flatness, and (3) control of contaminant materials such as copper (Cu). Data associated with the SpCE process, optimized for flatness improvement, particle removal, and Cu contamination control is presented in this paper, as it relates to excessive consumption of the usable depth of focus (UDOF) and comprehensive yield enhancement in photolithography. Additionally, data illustrating a highly effective means of eliminating copper from the wafer backside, bevel/edge, and frontside edge exclusion zone (0.5 mm - 3 mm), is presented. The data, obtained within the framework of standard and experimental copper/low-k device production at SEMATECH, quantifies the benefits of implementing the SEZ SpCE clean operation. Furthermore, this data confirms the feasibility of utilizing existing (non-copper) process equipment in conjunction with the development of copper applications by verifying the reliability and cost effectiveness of SpCE functionality.