We report the preparation and properties of higher nitrides of Hf, Zr, and Ti synthesized by dual ion beam deposition. For Hf and Zr, evidence is given for the existence of a metastable nitride phase with composition of approximately Hf3N4 and Zr3N4. These two materials are insulating and transparent straw colored, in contrast to the well-known mononitrides, which are shiny, gold colored, and highly conducting. For Ti–N we do not reach as high an N content and do not obtain an insulating, transparent phase. The higher nitrides of Hf and Zr are synthesized under energetic nitrogen ion bombardment (200 eV) of a growing film and do not form in the presence of molecular nitrogen gas alone. Several variations of the ion beam deposition process are used to obtain a wide range of film composition and to study the transition from the mononitride to the higher nitride phase. Transmission electron diffraction shows the structure of Hf3N4 and Zr3N4 to be very close to the B1 (NaCl) structure of the mononitrides, but with a slight rhombohedral distortion. Additional evidence from noble gas incorporation (Ne, Ar, and Xe) supports a model of these higher nitrides as containing a large number of vacancies on the metal atom sites. © 1986, Materials Research Society. All rights reserved.