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The growth kinetics involved in the selective molecular beam epitaxial growth of GaAs ridge QWRs is investigated in detail experimentally and an attempt is made to model the growth theoretically. For this purpose, detailed experiments were carried out on the growth of 〈1¯10〉-oriented AlGaAs–GaAs ridge quantum wires on mesa-patterned (001) GaAs substrates. A phenomenological modeling was done based on the continuum approximation including parameters such as group III adatom lifetime, diffusion constant and migration length. Computer simulation using the resultant model well reproduces the experimentally observed growth features such as the cross-sectional structure of the ridge wire and its temporal evolution, its temperature dependence and evolution of facet boundary planes. The simple phenomenological model developed here seems to be very useful for design and precise control of the growth process. © 2004 American Vacuum Society.