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Aluminum oxide films have been deposited using a modified cathodic arc plasma deposition process. The aluminum and aluminum oxide films have been characterized using x‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, x‐ray diffraction, and optical analysis. The film deposition is compared to rf sputtered aluminum oxide films in order to investigate the advantages, if any, of the cathodic arc process. The cathodic arc deposited films were found to have correct stoichiometry, high density, and good mechanical properties. Further, the cathodic arc deposition process yielded aluminum oxide films with deposition rates almost three times that of rf sputtered films.