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Structural and optical properties of ZnO epilayers grown on r -plane sapphire substrates by plasma-assisted molecular-beam epitaxy have been investigated using various techniques. A high-purity wurtzite structure and a smooth surface with an a-plane orientation were obtained. The resonant Raman scattering spectra show a typical multiphonon vibration characteristic from wurtzite ZnO. A good near band gap luminescence property is revealed in photoluminescence spectra.