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The c-axis-oriented aluminum nitride (AlN) films were deposited on z-cut lithium niobate (LiNbO/sub 3/) substrates by reactive RF magnetron sputtering. The crystalline orientation of the AlN film determined by x-ray diffraction (XRD) was found to be dependent on the deposition conditions such as substrate temperature, N/sub 2/ concentration, and sputtering pressure. Highly c-axis-oriented AlN films to fabricate the AlN/LiNbO/sub 3/-based surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices were obtained under a sputtering pressure of 3.5 mTorr, N/sub 2/ concentration of 60%, RF power of 165 W, and substrate temperature of 400/spl deg/C. A dense pebble-like surface texture of c-axis-oriented AlN film was obtained by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The phase velocity and the electromechanical coupling coefficient (K/sup 2/) of SAW were measured to be about 4200 m/s and 1.5%, respectively. The temperature coefficient of frequency (TCF) of SAW was calculated to be about -66 ppm//spl deg/C.