How to integrate individual nanostructures into macroscopic thin films has become one of the most intriguing fields in nanoscience and nanotechnology due to the unique properties and important applications of these functional films. Since being discovered in 2004, oil–water interfacial self-assembly of nanostructures has become a novel strategy for fabrication of nanofilms. It is a powerful bottom-up approach for film fabrication due to the low cost and high efficiency, and is simple and universal for almost all low-dimensional nanostructures. In this article, we provide a critical review of the state-of-the-art research activities in this burgeoning self-assembly strategy. We first discuss the thermodynamic mechanism of the oil–water interfacial self-assembly, then the self-assembly of various low-dimensional nanostructures including nanoparticles, one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures, two-dimensional (2D) nanostructures at an oil–water interface developed so far to fabricate high-quality nanofilms. Finally, we present some progress on the construction of functional nanofilm-based nanodevices from this novel strategy based on our research. We conclude this review with critical comments on advantages and the experimental challenges, and further propose the future research and development of this self-assembly strategy for nanodevice construction (105 references).
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