ZnO-SnO2 thin films were deposited on microscope glass substrates by filtered vacuum arc deposition system. The effects of deposition conditions on film characteristics were studied using cathodes prepared with three different ratios of atomic concentrations of Zn to Sri. The micro and the macro properties of the films were investigated as a function of cathode composition, arc current, background oxygen deposition pressure, and deposition time. X-ray diffraction analysis indicated that deposited films were amorphous, independent of the cathode composition. The atomic concentration ratio of Zn to Sri in the film as determined by XPS analysis were 33.9%: 10.6%, 43.9%: 3.8%, 44.7%: 4.7% for 50%: 50%, 70%: 30% and 90%: 10% Zn-Sn alloy cathodes, respectively. Film transmission in the visible was 70 to 90%, affected by interference effects. The maximal and minimal values of the refractive index n and the absorption coefficient k in the visible were 2.11 to 1.94 and 0.07 to 0.001, respectively. The optical band gap was in the range of 3.13 to 3.59 eV. All films were highly resistive independent of deposition conditions used. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.