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We propose an alternative method to control atomic step networks on silicon for future wafer-scale integration of self-assembling nanostructures. The method is the strain-distribution-control method that we have recently proposed in [H. Omi, D. J. Bottomley, and T. Ogino, Appl. Phys. Lett. 80, 1073 (2002)], which we apply here to design atomic step networks on vicinal Si(111) wafer. Si(111) with its strain patterned by buried silicon oxide inclusions was annealed at 1230 °C in ultrahigh vacuum and observed by in situ secondary electron microscopy and ex situ atomic force microscopy. The images show that the method enables us to create the desired arrays of atomic step networks on an arbitrary area of planar silicon wafer. The arrays remain stable during the 1230 °C annealing. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.