We use electron energy-loss spectroscopy in scanning transmission electron microscopy to investigate interfacial reactions of chemical vapor deposited Y2O3 films with the Si substrate and with in situ polycrystalline Si (“poly-Si”) capping layers after postdeposition annealing. We find that in situ capping layers significantly reduce the formation of SiO2 at the interface with the substrate, but silicates form at the substrate and the capping layer interfaces. Predeposition nitridation of the Si surface can impede the reaction at the substrate interface, resulting in crystallization of Y2O3 in the film interior. Possible mechanisms of the silicate formation are discussed. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.