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The use of AlN epitaxial films deposited on vicinal Si(111) as templates for the growth of GaN quantum dots is investigated by transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. It is found that the substrate vicinality induces both a slight tilt of the AlN (0001) direction with respect to the  direction and a step bunching mechanism. As a consequence, a dislocation dragging behavior is observed giving rise to dislocation-free areas well suited for the nucleation of GaN quantum dots.