Selected covalent metal nitrides with limited thermal stability, such as Sn3N4, Cu3 N, and Ni3N, were prepared in a glow discharge system by reactive sputtering in a nitrogen plasma. These compounds were characterized by chemical analysis and their thermal behavior established by temperature-programmed thermal decomposition. These materials decompose into the elements with the rate reaching a maximum at 615, 465, and 405 °C for Sn, Cu, and Ni respectively. The feasibility of using these coatings to generate metal lines by maskJess laser writing was explored. Conductingmetal lines, a few micron in width, could be generated with each of these nitrides. The resistivities of the metal lines were within an order of magnitude of those of the bulk metals for Cu and Ni and somewhat more for Sn.