Abstract Production and measurement of active nitrogen atoms (N+N*), which consist of ground state nitrogen atoms N and excited state nitrogen atoms N*, in an inductively coupled radio frequency discharge for the growth of group III nitrides and their alloys using a molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) were studied. Two discharge modes of the low brightness (LB) and the high brightness (HB) used in this study to produce excited nitrogen molecules (N 2*) and dissociated active nitrogen atoms (N+N*). The flux of (N+N*) was measured by a Langumuir-like electrode due to the self-ionization of adsorbed (N+N*) on a negatively biased electrode. The self-ionization, which emits electrons from (N+N*), forms an atom current and is confirmed using different electrodes such as Pt and CuBe and different electrode area. The atom current was calibrated by the grown GaN thickness in a VG80H MBE machine. The calibrated flux of (N+N*) per atom current in the VG80H machine is 5.5×10 −4 ML/s/nA, where ML is monolayer. The atom current is useful to monitor the flux of chemically active nitrogen atoms N+N* for growth of group III nitrides and their alloys. Activity modulation migration enhanced epitaxial growth (AM-MEE) was demonstrated as an application of the measurement of atom current for the growth of the group III nitrides.