ZnO nanowires were grown on a-plane GaN templates by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) without employing a catalyst. The a-plane GaN templates were pre-deposited on an r-plane sapphire substrate by metal-organic CVD. The resulting ZnO nanowires grow in angles off- related to the GaN basal plane. X-ray diffraction (XRD) spectra showed that the ZnO layer was grown with a heteroepitaxial relationship of (110)(ZnO)parallel to(110)(GaN). Photoluminescence spectra measured at 17 K exhibited near-band-edge emission at 372 nm with a full width at half maximum of 10 nm. The growth mechanism on a-GaN was the Volmer-Weber (VW) mode and differed from the Stranski-Krastanow (SK) mode observed for growth on c-GaN. This difference results from the higher interfacial free-energy on the a-plane between ZnO and GaN than that on the c-plane orientation. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.