Background: The majority of complex and advanced materials contain nanoparticles. The properties of these materials depend crucially on the size and shape of these nanoparticles. Wulff construction offers a simple method of predicting the equilibrium shape of nanoparticles given the surface energies of the material.
Results: We review the mathematical formulation and the main applications of Wulff construction during the last two decades. We then focus to three recent extensions: active sites of metal nanoparticles for heterogeneous catalysis, ligand-protected nanoparticles generated as colloidal suspensions and nanoparticles of complex metal hydrides for hydrogen storage.
Conclusion: Wulff construction, in particular when linked to first-principles calculations, is a powerful tool for the analysis and prediction of the shapes of nanoparticles and tailor the properties of shape-inducing species.