ZnO and AlN, which exhibit the wurtzite structure, were deposited onto metal coated SiO2 substrates by sputtering. X-ray diffraction (XRD) indicated that the films contained no second phases and exhibited an [0001] texture. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations confirmed the XRD results and revealed the columnar microstructure of the films. The width of the columnar grains were less than 30 nm for AIN and between 100 and 400 nm for ZnO. In the ZnO grains, a large concentration of defects were identified, which included dislocations and stacking faults that lie on the basal plane. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Limited. All rights reserved.