We used the reactive unbalanced close-field dc-magnetron sputtering growth of TiN-TiB2 on Si(1 0 0) at room temperature to determine if scaling theory provides insight into the kinetic mechanisms of two-phase nanocomposite thin films. Scaling analyses along with height-difference correlation functions of measured atomic force microscopy (AFM) images have shown that the TiN-TiB2 nanocomposite films with thickness ranging from 70 to 950 nm exhibit a kinetic surface roughening with the roughness increasing with thickness exponentially. The roughness exponent α and growth exponent β are determined to be ∼0.93 and ∼0.25, respectively. The value of dynamic exponent z, calculated by measurement of the lateral correlation length ξ, is ∼3.70, agreeing well with the ratio of α to β. These results indicate that the surface growth behavior of sputter-deposited TiN-TiB2 thin films follows the classical Family-Vicseck scaling and can be reasonably described by the noisy Mullins diffusion model, at which surface diffusion serves as the smoothing effect and shot noise as the roughening mechanism. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.