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A nontoxic proton source, octanoic acid, was adopted to fabricate proton-exchanged (PE) waveguides in 36° Y-X lithium tantalate (LiTaO3) substrates. The PE ability of octanoic acid on LiTaO3, the penetration depth, was investigated by secondary-ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). The penetration depth of hydrogen ion exhibited an obviously step-like profile, which will be excellent for waveguide application. The relationship between waveguide depth (d) and exchanging time (t) was represented by d = 0.0653 × √t at T = 200°C. To deserve to be mentioned, the octanoic acid has a slight dissociation coefficient and low activation energy, thus the accurate waveguide depth control can be obtained. For the application of acoustic wave guided acousto-optic devices, the leaky surface acoustic wave (LSAW) properties of PE 36° Y-X LiTaO3 waveguides were investigated. The phase velocity slightly decreased with the increase of kd, where k was wavenumber. An indispensable parameter of acoustic wave device, the temperature coefficient of frequency (TCF), calculated from the frequency change of the output of LSAW delay line showed an increase with increased kd.