Following the method of making structures with dimensions in the submicrometer range, structures of a polymeric layer with horizontal and substantially vertical surfaces are first made on a substrate. Thereupon, a silicon nitride or oxide layer is plasma deposited. This layer is subjected to reactive ion etching methods in such a manner that its horizontal regions and the polymeric structures are removed, with merely the narrow regions of the silicon nitride or oxide layer that had originally been arranged adjacent the vertical surfaces of the polymeric structures remaining. In the case of positive lithography, the silicon nitride or oxide walls are converted into a mask with the same dimensions but consisting of a different mask material. In the case of negative lithography the silicon nitride or oxide walls are converted in a mask reversal process into openings in a mask material layer through which by means of reactive ion etching vertical trenches approximately 0.5 .mu.m deep can be etched in the silicon substrate. The trenches are filled by thermal oxidation or with a synthetic material as e.g. polyimide. The method as disclosed by the invention can also be applied to other processes than recessed isolation in semiconductor technology.