© 2019 Author(s). In manufacturing, etch profiles play a significant role in device patterning. Here, the authors present a study of the evolution of etch profiles of nanopatterned silicon oxide using a chromium hard mask and a CHF3/Ar atomic layer etching in a conventional inductively coupled plasma tool. The authors show the effect of substrate electrode temperature, chamber pressure, and electrode forward power on the etch profile evolution of nanopatterned silicon oxide. Chamber pressure has an especially significant role, with lower pressure leading to lower etch rates and higher pattern fidelity. The authors also find that at higher electrode forward power, the physical component of etching increases and more anisotropic etching is achieved. By carefully tuning the process parameters, the authors are able to find the best conditions to achieve aspect-ratio independent etching and high fidelity patterning, with an average sidewall angle of 87° ± 1.5° and undercut values as low as 3.7 ± 0.5% for five trench sizes ranging from 150 to 30 nm. Furthermore, they provide some guidelines to understand the impact of plasma parameters on plasma ion distribution and thus on the atomic layer etching process.