The growth morphologies of metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) grown GaN layer on Si(111) substrate were studied using atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. It was found that the growth process of GaN/Si(111) consisted of two cycles of island growth and coalescence. These two cycles process differs markedly from that of one cycle process reported. The stress of evolving GaN layers on Si(111) was characterized by measuring the lattice constant c of GaN using X-ray diffraction (XRD) technique. It was proposed that the large tensile stress within the film during growth initiated this second island growth cycle, and the interaction between the GaN islands with high orientational fluctuation on the buffer layer induced this large tensile growth stress when coalescence occurred. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.