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In situ spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) has been successfully used to accurately measure sputter deposition rates and optical constants of un-oxidized metal layers and to control the growth of magnetic multilayers. The structures include [Co/Cu] n , [Co/Au] n , [Co/Ni] n , [Co/Pd] n and [Co/Pd/ Au] n . Layer thickness precision is better than ±0.05 nm for layer thicknesses in the range of 0.2 nm to 10 nm. Closed-loop feedback control of layer thickness is also demonstrated. Good consistency was obtained by comparing the in situ SE results to x-ray diffraction measurements. Dynamic oxidation studies of [Co/Au] n and [Co/Ni] n multilayer structures are also presented.