Ion-beam based deposition technique are provided for the planarization of pit and scratch defects in conjunction with particle defects. One application of this planarization technique is to mitigate the effects of pits and scratches and particles on reticles for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. In the planarization process, thin Si layers are successively deposited and etched away where the etching is directed at angles well away from normal incidence to the substrate to planarize pits and scratches without causing the particle defects to get too large; this is followed by a normal incidence etching process sequence designed primarily to planarize the particles but which will also planarize the pits and scratches to completion. The process also shows significant promise for planarizing substrate roughness.
 The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.