The preparation conditions for Co doping process into the ZnO structure were studied by the ultrasonic spray pyrolysis technique. Structural and optical properties of the Co:ZnO thin films as a function of Co concentrations were examined. It was observed that hexagonal wurtzite structure of ZnO is dominant up to the critical value, and after the value, the cubic structural phase of the cobalt oxide appears in the X-ray diffraction patterns. Every band-edge of Co:ZnO films shifts to the lower energies and all are confirmed with the PL measurements. Co substitution in ZnO lattice has been proved by the optical transmittance measurement which is observed as the loss of transmission appearing in specific region due to Co2+ characteristic transitions. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.