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This paper reviews recent experimental approaches to the development of surface nanostructures from nanoparticles. The formation of nanowires by electron beam writing in films of gold nanoparticles passivated with a specially designed class of ligand molecules (dialkyl sulfides) is presented, together with illustrations of practical nanostructures. Potential applications of this methodology are discussed. Another alternative to the controlled fabrication of arrays of nanoparticles, based on nanocrystals which contain molecular recognition elements in the ligand shell, is also surveyed. These particles aggregate in the presence of specifically designed molecular dications which act as a molecular binder. Finally, recent work on the formation of nanoscale surface architectures using x-ray patterning of self-assembled monolayers is introduced. Current and potential future applications of these surface nanostructures are discussed.