Silicon-on-insulator is a proven technology for very large scale integration of microelectronic devices. The technology also offers the potential for development of nanophotonic devices and the ability to interface such devices to the macroscopic world. This paper will report on fabrication techniques used to form nano-structured silicon wires on an insulating structure that is amenable to interfacing nanostructured sensors with high-performance microelectronic circuitry for practical implementation. Nanostructures formed on silicon-on-sapphire can also exploit the transparent substrate for novel device geometries. This research harnesses the unique properties of a high-quality single crystal film of silicon on sapphire and uses the film thickness as one of the confinement dimensions. Lateral arrays of silicon nanowires were fabricated in the thin (5 to 20 nm) silicon layer and studied. This technique offers simplified contact to individual wires and provides wire surfaces that are more readily accessible for controlled alteration and device designs.