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Freestanding gold nanowires (AuNWs) were grown by electrochemically filling the nanoscale pores of anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) membranes, and removing the membrane selectively. The array of vertically-aligned AuNWs was used at one of the electrodes of a capacitor-like gas ionizing cell, while the counter electrode was a polished silicon wafer coated with aluminum. The field enhancement property of high aspect-ratio AuNWs was employed to reduce the gaseous breakdown voltage (Vb) at room temperature. The device was operated in low-pressure gas to study the effect of AuNWs on pre-breakdown current, and tested in sub-torr argon, where it demonstrated considerable reduction in the breakdown voltage compared to uniform field conditions. The effect of nanowire polarity on Vb and the pre-breakdown discharge current was also studied.