All-photonic integrated circuits are promising platforms for future systems beyond the limitation of Moore's law. Over the last several decades, one-dimensional (1D) nanowires have demonstrated great potential in photonic circuitry because of their unique 1D structure to effectively generate and tightly confine optical signals as well as easily tunable optical properties. In this Review, we categorize nanowires based on the optical properties (i.e., semiconducting, metallic, and dielectric nanowires) for their potential photonic applications (as light emitters or plasmonic and photonic waveguides). We further discuss the recent efforts in integration of nanowire-based photonic elements toward next-generation optical information processors. However, there are still several challenges remaining before the nanowires are fully utilized as photonic building blocks. The scientific and technical challenges and outlooks are provided to indicate the future directions.
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