Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a thin film technology that in the past two decades rapidly developed from a niche technology to an established method. It proved to be a key technology for the surface modification and the fabrication of complex nanostructured materials. In this Progress Report, after a short introduction to ALD and its chemistry, the versatility of the technique for the fabrication of novel functional materials will be discussed. Selected examples, focused on its use for the engineering of nanostructures targeting applications in energy conversion and storage, and on environmental issues, will be discussed. Finally, the challenges that ALD is now facing in terms of materials fabrication and processing will be also tackled.