Abstract Mn 2+-doped Zn 2SiO 4 phosphor films were deposited on silicon and quartz glass substrates by sol–gel method (dip-coating). The variations of sol viscosity with time, film thickness with the number of layers were investigated in the Zn 2SiO 4:Mn system. The results of XRD and IR showed that the Zn 2SiO 4:Mn films remained amorphous below 700°C and crystallized completely around 1000°C. From AFM studies, it was observed that the grains of 0.5–0.8 μm in size packed closely in Zn 2SiO 4:Mn films, which were uniform and crack free. The luminescence properties of Zn 2SiO 4:Mn films were characterized by absorption, excitation and emission spectra, as well as luminescence decay.