Producing smaller feature sizes by extending current and near-term lithographic printing tools is a cost-effective strategy for high-volume production of integrated circuits. The hardbake process, as an annealing step to strengthen resist structures, includes a desirable thermal reflow that can facilitate this objective. Thermal reflow of polymer-based resists is a phase-dependent phenomenon in which a polymeric material with recyclable/reversible thermal characteristics experiences dimensional changes through relaxation during thermal cycling at hardbake. Unlike polymer melts, resist reflow is accompanied by a continuous change in the physical state of the resist over a specific temperature range, so it can be described on the basis of the relaxation modulus-temperature relation. Resist behavior during thermal transitions (e.g., glassy, leathery, rubbery plateau, etc.) can effectively be classified into either solid or viscous, depending on whether the resist material is below or above the characteristic glass transition temperature. In general, resist contact hole size can be significantly reduced by optimizing the principal factors driving resist reflow, i.e., temperature-dependent material properties, bake cycle parameters, contact-hole dimensions, and the type of contact array. Recognizable size reduction of the contact hole appears as the resist passes through the leathery state, and its maximum permanent deformation after thermal cycling completely depends on the resist material used. This research focuses on a bake profile of the resist described by the parameters in typical three-stage proximity contact wafer processing. Simulation programs were developed to characterize the primary thermal properties and process parameters affecting the bake profile, and to identify their relative effects on the resist contact-hole response.