We report structural and optical properties of aluminum nitride (AlN) thin films prepared by RF magnetron sputtering. A ceramic AlN target was used to sputter deposit AlN films without external substrate heating in Ar-N 2 (1:1) ambient. The X-ray diffraction and high resolution transmission electron microscopy results revealed that the films were preferentially oriented along c-axis. Cross-sectional imaging revealed columnar growth perpendicular to the substrate. The secondary ion mass spectroscopy analysis confirmed that aluminum and nitrogen distribution was uniform within the thickness of the film. The optical band gap of 5.3 eV was evaluated by UV-vis spectroscopy. Photo-luminescence broad band was observed in the range of 420-600 nm with two maxima, centered at 433 nm and 466 nm wavelengths related to the energy states originated during the film growth. A structural property correlation has been carried out to explore the possible application of such important well oriented nano-structured two-dimensional semiconducting objects. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.