The formulation of slurries for chemical–mechanical planarization (CMP) is currently considered more of an art than a science, due to the lack of understanding of the wafer, slurry, and pad interactions involved. Several factors, including the large number of input variables for slurries and the synergistic interplay among input variables and output parameters, further complicate our ability to understand CMP phenomena. This article provides a fundamental basis for the choice of chemical additives and particles needed for present-day and next-generation slurry design. The effect of these components on nanoscale and microscale interaction phenomena is investigated. Methodologies are suggested for the development of next-generation slurries required to overcome CMP challenges related to defectivity and the surface topography of soft materials such as Low-κ dielectrics and copper.