ZnO:Al thin films were grown epitaxially on epi-γ-Al2O3/Si (111) substrates by rf sputtering and pulsed laser deposition. The γ-Al2O3 buffer layer was deposited on Si (111) at a low substrate temperature of 500 °C using the metalorganic chemical vapor deposition method. Reflection high energy electron diffraction and x-ray diffraction measurements indicated a near alignment of the ZnO:Al epilayer on γ-Al2O3/Si (111) as compared to those grown directly on Si (111). Atomic force microscopy results of the films ZnO:Al/γ-Al2O3/Si (111) deposited by pulsed laser deposition revealed a smoother surface in comparison with the films deposited by rf sputtering. The M band observed in the photoluminescence spectra of the films deposited by laser ablation suggests that high quality epitaxial ZnO:Al/γ-Al2O3/Si (111) films can be deposited by pulsed laser deposition. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.