Ligand stabilized metal oxide nanoparticle resists are promising candidates for EUV lithography due to their high sensitivity for high-resolution patterning and high etching resistance. As ligand exchange is responsible for the patterning mechanism, we systematically studied the influence of ligand structures of metal oxide EUV nanoparticles on their sensitivity and dissolution behavior. ZrO2 nanoparticles were protected with various aromatic ligands with electron withdrawing and electron donating groups. These nanoparticles have lower sensitivity compared to those with aliphatic ligands suggesting the structures of these ligands is more important than their pka on resist sensitivity. The influence of ligand structure was further studied by comparing the nanoparticles’ solubility for a single type ligand to mixtures of ligands. The mixture of nanoparticles showed improved pattern quality. © (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.