Fiber optic modulators were fabricated by coating optical fibers with electrode and piezoelectric ZnO layers. The techniques of piezoelectric fiber optic modulator (PFOM) fabrication are presented, and the microstructure and crystallographic texture of the coatings are analyzed, Ln order to produce thick (approximately 5 mu m) ZnO coatings, it was necessary to study the reactive de magnetron sputtering process in O-2/Ar gas mixtures under conditions close to the transition between an oxidized and nonoxidized Zn target surface. In situ quartz crystal microbalance measurements of the deposition rate revealed thee distinct regions in the deposition rate (R) vs oxygen partial pressure (P-o2) behavior, at constant total pressure, for sputtering under conditions that provided an oxidized Zn target surface. Additionally, a transition between oxygen and argon dominated sputtering as observed by varying the sputtering pressure while maintaining a constant P-o2. The transition between oxygen and argon dominated sputtering influences R to varying extents within the three R vs P-o2 regions for an oxidized target surface. Correlations among the cathode current and voltage, deposition rate, and gas flow rate are presented to give a better understanding of the reactive sputtering processes occurring at the oxidized Zn target surface. Sputtering conditions optimized for a high ZnO deposition rate were used to produce [001] radially oriented ZnO fiber coatings for PFOM devices that can produce optical phase shifts as large as 0.38 rad/V.