In-rich InGaN/GaN single quantum well (SQW) structures with and without growth interruption (GI) were successfully grown on sapphire substrates by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition. The optical properties were systematically investigated by photoluminescence (PL), selectively excited PL, PL excitation (PLE), and cathodoluminescence (CL) techniques. The integrated PL intensity of the main In-rich InGaN emissions for the sample grown without GI decreased only by a factor of 15.5 when the temperature increased from 11 to 300 K, while that of the sample with GI decreased by about 1040, showing very good quantum efficiency for the sample without GI. The In-rich InGaN SQW emissions have been verified by selectively excited PL spectra and by the different PLE absorption edges. CL observations showed that the epilayer of the sample without GI agglomerated together to form clusters due to the large lattice and thermal mismatches with GaN, which confine the carriers in the clusters and ensure the relatively high quantum efficiency of the sample. The sample with GI showed relatively smooth surface with cluster structures jointed together, which gives two-dimensional QW environment in its energy band structure, and its optical emission is more sensitive to temperatures than that of the sample grown without GI. (c) 2006 American Institute of Physics.