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GaN layers are laterally overgrown by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition on structured Si(111) substrates in a single growth process. The substrates are structured with parallel grooves along the Si 〈1–10〉 or perpendicular to the Si 〈1–10〉 direction by standard photolithography and subsequent dry etching. Due to the anisotropic chemical dry etch process, the remaining Si ridges are underetched. The GaN layer grows nearly exclusively on the bottom of the grooves and on the top of the ridges between the grooves. These two growth fronts are completely separated from each other. As a consequence, the GaN layer growing from the ridge area between grooves can extend over the grooves. This process is similar to the so called pendeo-epitaxy process, but is completely mask free during growth and does not require any growth interruption. The improvement of the crystalline and the optical quality of the GaN layer is demonstrated by atomic force microscopy and cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.