Work function and thermal stability of reactive sputtered Ti1−xAlxNy films were investigated for a metal gate electrode using a metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) structure. It is found that the work function (ΦM) values of Ti1−xAlxNy are ranged from 4.36 to 5.13 eV with a nitrogen partial flow rate (fN2). The ΦM values of Ti1−xAlxNy films, 4.36 eV for nMOS (n-Ti1−xAlxNy) and 5.10–5.13 eV for pMOS (p-Ti1−xAlxNy), may be applicable to dual metal gate electrodes. Excellent thermal stability up to 1000 °C was obtained on SiO2 as observed by the negligible change of capacitance equivalent thickness and Al 2p core level spectra for p-Ti1−xAlxNy (y ∼ 1.0,fN2 = 50%), whereas a limited stability was attained in case of n-Ti1−xAlxNy (fN2 ⩽ 40%). The p-Ti1−xAlxNy can be a good candidate for pMOS device feasibility because of good thermal stability, while the n-Ti1−xAlxNy may be applicable for nMOS gate electrode in low thermal devices using damascene gate process. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.