We have investigated the photoluminescence and electrical properties of a coherently coupled interface consisting of a ZnO layer grown on top of an oriented VO 2 layer on sapphire across the phase transition of VO 2. The band edge and defect luminescence of the ZnO overlayer exhibit hysteresis in opposite directions induced by the phase transition of VO 2. Concomitantly the phase transition of VO 2 was seen to induce defects in the ZnO layer. Such coherently coupled interfaces could be of use in characterizing the stability of a variety of interfaces in situ and also for novel device application. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.