We report on a dramatic improvement of the optical and structural properties of AlN/GaN multiple quantum wells (MQWs) grown by metal-organic vapor-phase epitaxy using indium as a surfactant. This improvement is observed using photoluminescence as well as x-ray diffraction. Atomic force microscopy shows different surface morphologies between samples grown with and without In. This is ascribed to a modified relaxation mechanism induced by different surface kinetics. These improved MQWs exhibit intersubband absorption at short wavelength (2 mu m). The absorption linewidth is as low as 65 meV and the absorption coefficient is increased by 85%.