Phosphonic acids are increasingly being used for controlling surface and interface properties in hybrid or composite materials, (opto)electronic devices and in the synthesis of nanomaterials. In this perspective article, a concise survey of phosphonate coupling molecules is first presented, including details on their coordination chemistry, their use in the surface modification of inorganic substrates with self-assembled monolayers, and the analytical techniques available to characterize their environment in nanomaterials. Then, some of their recent applications in the development of organic electronic devices, photovoltaic cells, biomaterials, biosensors, supported catalysts and sorbents, corrosion inhibitors, and nanostructured composite materials, are presented. In the last part of the article, a brief overview of recent progress in the use of phosphonate ligands for the preparation of molecular nanomaterials like metal organic frameworks and functionalized polyoxometalates is given.
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