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Spatially resolved concentrations of excited atomic hydrogen (n=2), generated from 13.56 MHz RF hydrocarbon discharges, are determined during film formation using intracavity laser spectroscopy. Self‐bias voltages and pressures of methane (25 and 100 mTorr) and benzene (25 mTorr) are selected so that diamondlike carbon films are deposited. In all cases, the minimum concentration occurs at the power electrode. Benzene produces the least amount of excited atomic hydrogen overall. The results may have implications concerning the proposed impact induced fragmentation of hydrocarbon molecules during film growth.