We study GaAs–AlAs short-period superlattices (SPSLs) grown on a GaAs(311)A surface using plan-view transmission electron microscopy (TEM). A strong in-plane compositional modulation with a period of 3.2 nm along the [01¯1] direction is revealed by TEM under chemically sensitive imaging conditions and in high-resolution TEM. Our results confirm the formation of highly ordered vertically aligned arrays of GaAs and AlAs quantum wires formed via self-organized growth. Bright photoluminescence (PL) at room temperature in the green and yellow spectral range is observed. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.