A predictable, controllable approach to the synthesis of ternary compounds through known intermediates is presented. Thin and ultrathin film superlattices were made in the Mo-Se, Cu-Se and Mo-Cu systems. Differential scanning calorimetry, low- and high-angle x-ray diffraction were used to assess the interdiffusion and nucleation reactions between elemental layers in these one-dimensional crystals. The experimental parameter modulation distance was used to influence the interfacial reactions. The results from each binary system were then used to predict the reaction pathway in the synthesis of a ternary compound, Cu2Mo6Se8. Superlattices with two different lengthscales were investigated. In the first, only one intermediate, MoSe2 which typically crystallizes at ∼200'C, is observed prior to the crystallization of Cu2Mo6Se8. In the second, no crystalline intermediates are observed below 6000 C.