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The occurrence of heterostructures of cubic silicon/hexagonal silicon as disks defined along the nanowire < 111 > growth direction is reviewed in detail for Si nanowires obtained using Cu as catalyst. Detailed measurements on the structural properties of both semiconductor phases and their interface are presented. We observe that during growth, lamellar twinning on the cubic phase along the < 111 > direction is generated. Consecutive presence of twins along the < 111 > growth direction was found to be correlated with the origin of the local formation of the hexagonal Si segments along the nanowires, which define quantum wells of hexagonal Si diamond. Finally, we evaluate and comment on the consequences of the twins and wurtzite in the final electronic properties of the wires with the help of the predicted energy band diagram. (C) 2008 American Institute of Physics. [DOI: 10.1063/1.2976338]