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A fractal analysis of slip lines on the surface of a plastically deformed GaAs/GaAlAs heterostructure has been performed using atomic force microscopy. The high resolution of atomic force microscopy allowed us to analyze a very large interval of magnifications ranging from 1100 to 1 110 000. The fractal behavior of the slip line pattern was only observed in a decade of magnification. At the highest magnifications (40 000–1 110 000), the less fractal tendency of the slip line pattern confirms that the slipping of dislocations is an efficient method to cut a quantum well into quantum wires with a ‘‘natural’’ reasonable degree of homogeneity. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.