A method for growing crystalline semiconductor oxide thin films. A substrate is coated with a conducting oxide (e.g., indium tin oxide). The coated substrate is immersed in a growth solution, such as a solution of a titanium-based sol-gel precursor combined with tetraethylene glycol. The coated substrate and the growth solution are heated in a microwave reactor via microwave radiation. Film growth of crystalline semiconductor oxide thin films (e.g., titanium dioxide thin films) are then catalyzed by microwave interaction with the conducting oxide on the substrate. Such a process enables crystalline semiconductor oxide thin films to be grown on a flexible or heat-sensitive substrate (e.g., plastic) using a low temperature in a fast and inexpensive manner.