The InAs quantum dots (QDs) on an AlAs layer are grown on GaAs substrates by molecular beam epitaxy technique. The properties of materials and optics of such QD structures have been investigated by cross sectional transmission electron microscopy and photoluminescence (PL) techniques. It is discovered that the inhomogeneous strain filed mainly exists below InAs QDs layers in the case of no wetting layer. The full width at half maximums (FWHMs) and intensities of PL emission peaks of InAs QDs are found to be closely related to the thickness of the thin AlAs layers. The InAs QDs on an eight monolayer AlAs layer, with wide FWHMs and large integral intensity of PL emission peaks, are favorable for producing broadband QD superluminescent diodes, external-cavity QD laser with large tuning range.