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A polarization‐sensitive laser‐light‐scattering method is developed for simultaneous in situ measurements of properties (size, size dispersion, density, and refractive index) of particulates formed in processing plasmas. The developed system is applied to observe the growth processes of particulates in a range of their size larger than about 10 nm in rf silane plasmas. A size, a size dispersion (logarithm of a standard deviation of size), a density, and a refractive index of particulates in the plasmas are found to be 10–200 nm, about 0.1, 107–109 cm-3 and about 3–5i, respectively. The former three of such values agree fairly well with ones deduced from scanning electron microscopic (SEM) observation. These particulates grow through three phases of nucleation and initial growth, rapid growth, and growth saturation. Coexistence of two size groups of particulates with narrow size dispersions during and after the rapid growth phase verified by the SEM observation may be explained by a model taking into account coagulation between oppositely charged particulates. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.