High quality VO2 crystal films have been prepared on sapphire substrates by pulsed laser deposition method and the effects of oxygen pressure on the crystal phase structure are investigated. Results indicate that the phases and microstructures of VO2 films are strongly sensitive to oxygen pressure. High oxygen pressure tends to form coarse B-VO2 nanocrystals while low pressure favors a flat M1-VO2 film epitaxial growth. X-ray diffraction f- scan patterns confirm the  epitaxial growth orientation of the M1-VO2 film and the in-plane lattice epitaxial relationship at the interface is also examined. Raman spectra indicate that M1-VO2 phase has much stronger Raman scattering modes than B-VO2, and the clear phonon modes further confirm the idea stoichiometry of VO2 crystal film. Infrared transmittance spectra as the function of temperature are recorded and the results show that M1-VO2 crystal films undergo a distinct infrared transmittance variation across metal insulator transition boundary, while B-VO2 exhibits negligible thermochromic switching properties in the temperature range concerned. The pronounced phase transition behavior of the M1-VO2 crystal film makes it a promising candidate for optical filter/switch and smart window applications in the future. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.