A matrix of closely packed cells develops during molecular-beam epitaxy of In0.35Ga0.65As on GaAs (311)B, due to strain-driven growth instability. The established lateral strain distribution generates a unique template that controls the nucleation and growth of InAs quantum dots (QDs). The QDs exhibit pronounced improvement of the structural and optical properties with efficient carrier transfer from the template. Thus, self-organization of a two-dimensionally connected quantum dot network is demonstrated. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.