Hafnium aluminate films with different compositions were deposited at room temperature by jet vapor deposition. The as-deposited films were amorphous. After annealing at 1100 degreesC, the microstructure of the films was analyzed by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, electron diffraction and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). The crystalline phase in pure HfO2 films was monoclinic. With an increase in the Al content in the films, the amount of metastable HfO2 with a tetragonal distorted fluorite structure increased. In addition, the grain sizes decreased, making the detection of crystallization by x-ray diffraction difficult. No crystalline Al2O3 phase could be unambiguously detected in electron diffraction patterns in films with up to 30 mol % Al2O3. However, an Al-rich intergranular phase was identified by EELS. Films with similar to64 mol % Al2O3 crystallized as tetragonal HfO2 and metastable cubic Al2O3 with the spinel structure. The complex microstructures of the films should be considered in the interpretation of their dielectric and electrical properties after high temperature anneals. (C) 2004 American Institute of Physics.