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Aluminum gallium nitride alloys were grown by molecular beam epitaxy and their film composition, structure, and microstructure were investigated by Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, x-ray diffraction, and transmission electron microscopy. It was found that the ratio of group-III to group-V fluxes influences the relative incorporation of gallium and aluminum in the films. The transmission electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction studies revealed the existence of three types of spontaneously formed superlattice structures with periodicities of 2, 7, and 12 ML. While the 2 ML ordering is preferred under group-V rich conditions of growth, the 7 and 12 ML orderings were observed under group-III rich conditions of growth. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.