SnO2 thin films were grown on p-InP (100) substrates by using radio-frequency magnetron sputtering at low temperature. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and electron diffraction pattern measurements showed that these SnO2 thin films were nanocrystalline. The capacitance–voltage measurements at room temperature showed that the type and the carrier concentration of the nominally undoped SnO2 film were n type and approximately 1.62×1016 cm-3, respectively. Raman scattering measurements showed that the grain sizes of the nanocrystalline films were below 10 nm, which was in reasonable agreement with the result obtained from the high-resolution TEM measurements. Photoluminescence measurements showed a broad peak below the band-to-band emission. These results can help improve the understanding of SnO2 nanocrystalline films grown on p-InP (100) substrates for applications in high-sensitivity gas sensors. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.