A method of forming an epitaxial film on a substrate includes growing an initial layer of a film on a substrate at a temperature T.sub.growth, said initial layer having a thickness h and annealing the initial layer of the film at a temperature T.sub.anneal, thereby relaxing the initial layer, wherein said thickness h of the initial layer of the film is greater than a critical thickness h.sub.c. The method further includes growing additional layers of the epitaxial film on the initial layer subsequent to annealing. In some embodiments, the method further includes growing a layer of the film that includes at least one amorphous island.
 The invention was supported, in whole or in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation and by the U.S. Department of Energy under the Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 and Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38. The Government has certain rights in the invention.