A remote plasma enhanced-ultrahigh vacuum chemical vapor deposition (RPE-UHVCVD) system equipped with a radio frequency-inductively coupled plasma (RF-ICP) which produces the reactive nitrogen species was employed to study the nitridation process at low temperature. The sapphire surface nitridated under various conditions was investigated with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The nitridation process seems to be mostly affected by the RF power even at low temperature since the intensity of the N1s, peak was not dependent on the substrate temperature but on the RF power. The AFM images showed that the protrusion density on the sapphire surface decreased rapidly when the nitridation temperature was decreased. This result suggests that the formation of the protrusions is closely related to the process temperature, indicating that the formation of such protrusions is caused by the change of an elastic strain energy due to the thermal stress. It was possible to nitridate the sapphire surface without protrusion at a very low temperature. The crystallinity of GaN grown at 450 °C was found to be much improved when the sapphire substrate was nitridated at low temperature prior to the GaN layer growth.