An efficient TE-TM polarization converter built on a silicon-on-insulator nanophotonic platform is demonstrated. The strong cross-polarization coupling effect in air-cladded photonic-wire waveguides is employed to realize the conversion. A peak TE-TM coupling efficiency of 87% (-0.6 dB insertion loss) is measured experimentally. A polarization conversion efficiency of >92% with an overall insertion loss of <- 1.6 dB is obtained in a wavelength range of 40nm. The proposed device is compact, with a total length of 44 μm and can be fabricated with one lithography and etching step. © 2011 Optical Society of America.