Deposition mechanism of nano-structured ZnO films has been investigated in the absence and presence of chloride ions from aqueous solution. The resulting opto-electronic properties were interpreted extensively, using X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM), UV-Visible spectroscopy and four probe techniques. The ZnO deposition is mass transport controlled process and the interaction of chloride ions with the surface has great influence on diffusion kinetics, considering the substantial species (Zn2+ and OH-) involved in the construction of ZnO film. This effect does not change major lattice parameters, as shown with detailed analysis of XRD data. However, the texture coefficient (T-c) (0 0 2) value is higher in presence of chloride ions containing synthesis solution which gave vertically aligned, well defined and uniformly dispersed nanorods structure. The calculated E-g values are in the range 3.28-3.41 eV and 3.22-3.31 eV for ZnO nanorods and nanotowers synthesized at different deposition periods, respectively. Furthermore, the charge mobility values regarding the deposition periods were measured to be in the ranges from 130.4 to 449.2 cm(2)V(-1)s(-1) and 126.2 to 204.7 cm(2)V(-1)s(-1) for nanorods and nanotowers, respectively. From XANES results, it was shown that the Zn K-edge spectrum is dominated by the transition of Zn 1s core electrons into the unoccupied Zn 4p states of the conduction band. Comparing the rod and tower nano-structured ZnO thin films, the excitation behavior of valence band electrons is different. Moreover, the density states of Zn 4p are higher for ZnO nanorods. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.