The chemical (Auger electron spectroscopy) and electrical characterizations of NbN thin films reactively sputtered with a high‐field dc magnetron under varying conditions are described. The films were deposited onto polished silicon and glass substrates which were maintained at close to ambient temperature. A study of the chemical composition, transition temperature, transition width, and sheet resistance ratio was made to determine the optimum conditions for the NbN thin‐film preparation. The transition temperature and sheet resistance ratio increases monotonically as the oxygen content of the films decreases and the NbN thin films approach stoichiometry. For films deposited by sputtering at 490 W with 15% nitrogen, 85% argon at 6.6‐mTorr total pressure, the transition temperature was 14.7 K, the transition width was 0.2 K, the sheet resistance ratio was 0.90, and the composition was nearly stoichiometric with <1 at. % oxygen and <1 at. % carbon contamination.

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