Two different fabrication techniques to obtain nanometer scale structures without the use of lithography are demonstrated. Quantum dots are made on GaAs by growing strained InP islands by metal-organic vapour phase epitaxy. Quantum confinement of carriers is achieved by the growth of quantum wells on the InP islands. Molecular beam epitaxy is used for the fabrication of a gold island mask on GaAs. Reactive ion etching through the gold mask produces a high density of GaAs columns with diameters down to 20 nm.