Controlling the amount of material deposited by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) down to fractions of one atomic layer is crucial for nanoscale technologies based on thin-film heterostructures. Albeit unsurpassed for measuring growth rates with high accuracy, the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) suffers from some limitations when applied to PLD. The strong directionality of the PLD plasma plume and its pronounced dependence on deposition parameters (e.g., background pressure and fluence) require that the QCM is placed at the same position as the substrate during growth. However, QCM sensors are commonly fixed off to one side of the substrate. This also entails fast degradation of the crystal, as it is constantly exposed to the ablated material. The design for a movable QCM holder discussed in this work overcomes these issues. The holder is compatible with standard transfer arms, enabling easy insertion and transfer between a PLD chamber and other adjoining vacuum chambers. The QCM can be placed at the same position as the substrate during PLD growth. Its resonance frequency is measured in vacuum at any location where it can be in contact with an electrical feedthrough, before and after deposition. We tested the design for the deposition of hematite (Fe2O3), comparing the rates derived from the QCM and from reflection high-energy electron diffraction oscillations during homoepitaxial growth.

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