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Highly dense and free-standing InP nanowire structures of vertical orientation were grown by the metalorganic vapor-phase epitaxial technique using colloidal Au nanoparticles as the catalyst. Scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy showed that the nanowires were single crystalline with 〈111〉 growth direction and of uniform length of about 700 nm, and most of them had diameter in the range of 20–25 nm. Photoluminescence measurements, carried out at room temperature as well as at 77 K, showed a significant blueshift in the peak position compared to bulk InP due to the quantum confinement of the carriers in the nanowires. The successful growth of these nanowires opens up the possibility of realizing various nanoscale devices on the wafer scale in the bottom-up approach. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.