It is estimated that by the year 1995, as much as ninety percent of the contamination in IC manufacturing will be caused by equipment and processes. Contamination can be in the form of particles, defects, scratches, stains, and so on. All are major concerns for yielding ULSI devices. In order to eliminate process/equipment-induced particles, particle formation/generation must be understood before appropriate action can be taken to meet the contamination-free requirements of the future. A variety of vacuum processing tools were studied, including CVD, PECVD, and plasma etch systems with heat lamps, RF, and remote microwave energy sources. A particle collection and characterization methodology was adopted to analyze the particles generated from the vacuum processing tools. By using SEM and EDS to analyze particles collected from equipment chamber walls, both the particle morphology and composition were discerned. The elemental analyses indicate that the composition of particles varied a great deal depending on the chemical nature of the process, chamber material/process compatibility, and energy source.