Antiferroelectric lead zirconate thin films were deposited using KrF (248 nm) excimer laser ablation technique. Utilization of antiferroelectric materials is proposed in high charge storage capacitors and microelectromechanical (MEMs) devices. The antiferroelectric nature of lead zirconate thin films was confirmed by the presence of double hysteresis behavior in polarization versus applied field response. By controlling the processing parameters, two types of microstructures evolved, namely columnar (or in-situ) and multi-grained (or ex-situ) in PZ thin films. The dielectric and electrical properties of the lead zirconate thin films were studied with respect to the processing parameters. Analysis on charge transport mechanism, using space charge limited conduction phenomenon, showed the presence of both shallow and deep trap sites in the PZ thin films. The estimated shallow trap energies were 0.448 and 0.491 eV for in-situ and ex-situ films, with respective concentrations of approximate to 7.9 x 10(18)/cc and approximate to 2.97 x 10(18)/cc. The deep trap energies with concentrations were 1.83 eV with 1.4 x 10(16)/cc for ex-situ and 1.76 eV with 3.8 x 10(16)/cc for in-situ PZ thin films, respectively. These activation energies were found to be consistent with the analysis from Arrhenius plots of de current densities. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.