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The role of annealing for (In,Ga)As self-organized quantum wire (QWR) formation on GaAs (100) during growth of (In,Ga)As/GaAs superlattice (SL) structures is studied by x-ray diffraction (XRD), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy. XRD and AFM evidence that annealing after the supply of each layer of elongated (In,Ga)As quantum dots (QDs) in the SL is the crucial process for QWR formation. We conclude that during annealing, the shape anisotropy of the QDs is enhanced due to anisotropic mass transport and the QDs become connected along the [0-11] direction. Strain reduction by In desorption, revealed by XRD and PL, which accompanies this process, then results in well defined, uniform QWR arrays by repetition in SL growth. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.