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[en] Highlights: • ZnO films are deposited on AlN substrates using magnetron sputtering based on similar lattice constants between ZnO and AlN. • Visible emissions related with defect type and concentration are confirmed by controlling deposition conditions. • Changing sputtering gas atmosphere and annealing treatment ensure increased interstitial Zn defect concentration. Taking into account the individual excellent optical properties of ZnO and AlN, the combination of ZnO with AlN may give the enhanced performances. Based on similar lattice constants between ZnO and AlN, considering that AlN is a promising high power integrated circuit substrate material, ZnO films are deposited on AlN substrates using magnetron sputtering. We find that AlN substrate shows an excellent transparency with an average transmittance of about 80%. As ZnO films are deposited on AlN substrate, average transmittance still maintain above 80% except for the UV absorption edge shifted to the longer wavelength. In addition, AlN substrate shows two emission peaks at 420 and 468 nm ascribed to Al vacancies with different charge states. As ZnO films are deposited on AlN substrates in pure Ar gas, the intensity of both peaks attain the maximum. After introducing O2 gas, they conversely decreases and attains the minimum. PL emissions increase again as the sample is annealed in vacuum. Excellent blue emissions are obtained due to the synergistic effect between ZnO and AlN. This work may help the development of the practical optoelectronic devices based on ZnO and AlN materials.