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The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, we report on the successful application of variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry to quantitative thin-film hermeticity evaluation. Secondly, it is shown that under a variety of film preparations and moisture introduction conditions water penetrates only a very thin diamondlike carbon (DLC) top surface-roughness region. Thus DLC is an excellent candidate for use as protective coatings in adverse chemical and aqueous environments.