The use of high intensity ultraviolet (UV) and vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation generated from decaying excimer complexes through dielectric barrier discharge (silent discharges) sources for the purposes of surface processing and modification is reviewed. Such sources provide a singular dominant narrow-band emission at various wavelengths(λ) between 126 - 354 nm. The remarkable simplicity of supplying these sources and flexibility of their geometric configurations allow them to be coupled in parallel thus providing high photon fluxes over large areas. The monochromatic selectivity allows for application to process and chemical pathway specific tasks by simple variation of the discharge gas mixture. These sources are an interesting addition to and as an alternative
to lasers for large scale industrial applications and their unique characterisitics have led to their use in a number of low-temperature material modification techniques, some of which are reviewed here. These include the photo-induced low-temperature formation of oxynitride layers, high-κ thin film layers and the post-deposition annealing of pulsed laser deposited (PLD) thin films.