Metal-oxide-semiconductor capacitors were fabricated on germanium substrates by using metalorganic-chemical-vapor-deposited HfO2 as the dielectric and TaN as the metal gate electrode. It is demonstrated that a surface annealing step in NH3 ambient before the HfO2 deposition could result in significant improvement in both gate leakage current and the equivalent oxide thickness (EOT). It was possible to achieve a capacitor with an EOT of 10.5 Angstrom and a leakage current of 5.02x10(-5) A/cm(2) at 1 V gate bias. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis indicates the formation of GeON during surface NH3 anneal. The presence of Ge was also detected within the HfO2 films. This may be due to Ge diffusion at the high temperature (similar to400 degreesC) used in the chemical-vapor deposition process. (C) 2004 American Institute of Physics.