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We present theoretical investigations of subband structures and optical absorption properties of periodic quantum wires. The calculation is based on the multiband effective mass theory, where effects such as the valence-band mixing effects, the dependence of crystallographic orientation, and the strain effect using a total energy minimization technique are duly taken into account. We use the finite element method to solve the eigenvalue problem with periodic boundary conditions for the quasitwo-dimensional quantum confinement effect. We study strain effects on subband structures and optical properties, and dependence of the optical properties on the crystallographic orientation. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.