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This paper discusses different aspects of optical applications of ZnO nanowires NWs. After a description of the relevant synthesis and fabrication techniques, light-emitting diodes based on ZnO NW and NW arrays are introduced and different experimental realizations from the literature are discussed. The working principle of ZnO UV photodetectors is presented, and improvements and limitations of ZnO- NW-based dye-sensitized solar cells are discussed. Different aspects of ZnO-NW waveguides and their potential application for biological sensing are described. Finally, the current status of ZnO-NW-based UV lasers is presented.