Sn doped ZnO thin films were prepared on glass, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and silicon substrate make use of the thermionic vacuum arc technique and their structural, morphological, optical properties were investigated with various methods. The surface and microstructural properties of the Sn doped ZnO thin films were investigated by X-ray diffractometer, field emission scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, UV-visible spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy. According to the obtained results, all deposited films are in polycrystalline form with large crystallites. Due to larger crystallites on a deposited layer on glass and Si substrates, resistivity was found lower than deposited layer on PET substrate. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.