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Epitaxial films of stoichiometric tin oxide were grown on sapphire (11¯02) substrates by reactive sputter deposition. X‐ray diffraction showed the films to have a single (101) orientation. Lateral registry of film growth with respect to the substrate lattice was demonstrated by low energy electron diffraction. Atomic force microscopy was used to examine surface morphology and roughness. The films are extremely flat, having a rms roughness of 3 Å over a 4×4 μm2 area. Atomic steps, observed on the sapphire substrate and attributable to a 0.24° miscut, were also observed on the surface of a 400 Å film. The results indicate that the film grew via a layer‐by‐layer growth mechanism which was controlled by diffusion of the adatoms to the step edges.