Nanoscience provides many strategies to construct high-performance materials and devices, including solar cells, thermoelectrics, sensors, transistors, and transparent electrodes. Bottom-up fabrication facilitates large-scale chemical synthesis without the need for patterning and etching processes that waste material and create surface defects. However, assembly and contacting procedures still require further development. Here, we demonstrate a light-induced plasmonic nanowelding technique to assemble metallic nanowires into large interconnected networks. The small gaps that form naturally at nanowire junctions enable effective light concentration and heating at the point where the wires need to be joined together. The extreme sensitivity of the heating efficiency on the junction geometry causes the welding process to self-limit when a physical connection between the wires is made. The localized nature of the heating prevents damage to low-thermal-budget substrates such as plastics and polymer solar cells. This work opens new avenues to control light, heat and mass transport at the nanoscale. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.