A stable, wide-bandgap (approximately 6 eV) ZnO/MgO multilayer thin film is fabricated using pulsed-laser deposition on c-plane Al.sub.2O.sub.3 substrates. Layers of ZnO alternate with layers of MgO. The thickness of MgO is a constant of approximately 1 nm; the thicknesses of ZnO layers vary from approximately 0.75 to 2.5 nm. Abrupt structural transitions from hexagonal to cubic phase follow a decrease in the thickness of ZnO sublayers within this range. The band gap of the thin films is also influenced by the crystalline structure of multilayer stacks. Thin films with hexagonal and cubic structure have band-gap values of 3.5 and 6 eV, respectively. In the hexagonal phase, Mg content of the films is approximately 40%; in the cubic phase Mg content is approximately 60%. The thin films are stable and their structural and optical properties are unaffected by annealing at 750.degree. C.