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Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) of cubic GaN on SiC films deposited by chemical vapor deposition on Si has been investigated by reflection high-energy electron diffraction, x-ray diffraction, photoluminescence, and micro-Raman spectroscopy. The wurtzite/zinc-blende ratio, indicative of the material quality, has been found to depend on both the initial substrate roughness and the N/metal ratio impinging on the surface. The results were consistently analyzed by assuming that the MBE growth of cubic GaN is mainly governed by the impinging active N flux, which directly determines the mean-free path of Ga adatoms. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.