Abstract Wet chemical removal of a silicon nitride/silicon Poly Buffer LOCUS (PBL) film stack with a phosphoric/nitric acid solution was characterized. Though silicon nitride etch rates remain constant, silicon etch rates decrease as a function of loading which severely limits the usable lifetime of the bath. This is caused by buildup of etching products which limits the amount of silicon that can be dissolved in the solution. Addition of HF to the phosphoric/nitric acid solution enhances the dissolution chemistry presumably by decomposing the silica reaction products and shifting the equilibrium. Characterization of this process was done to determine whether it could be applied towards PBL removal. Depending on the relative amounts of HF and HNO3 added, silicon etch rates could be enhanced by two orders of magnitude (200–400A/min) and silicon nitride etch rates by a factor of two. Selectivities for etching silicon to oxide and silicon nitride to oxide were typically between 8–12:1 and 8–20:1 respectively.