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Polysilicon layers with thicknesses between 8 and 600 nm deposited by low-pressure chemical vapor deposition at temperatures ranging from 560 to 640 °C were characterized by spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) to determine the layer thicknesses and compositions using multilayer optical models and the Bruggeman effective-medium approximation. The dependence of the structural parameters on the layer thickness and deposition temperature have been investigated. A better characterization of the polysilicon layer is achieved by using the reference data of fine-grained polysilicon in the optical model. The amount of voids in the polysilicon layer was independently measured by Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS). The SE and RBS results show a good correlation. The comparison of the surface roughness measured by SE and atomic force microscopy (AFM) shows that independently of the AFM window sizes, a good correlation of the roughness determined by SE and AFM was obtained. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.