Today’s technology has to aim at the environmental conscious development with new, environmentally friendly processes and materials. Nanotechnology presents eligible solutions to the challenges of modern materials science. It deals with small amount of matter (e.g. thin film), which – by its nanostructure and/or unusual composition – provides traditional bulk materials with new or improved functionalities. The aim of the present work was to elaborate multifunctional nanostructured thin layers for possible application as a) self-cleaning antireflective coating and b) active top layer on porous ceramic membranes coupling separation and photocatalysis or separation and chemisorption. Wet colloidal chemistry routes were used for the synthesis of silica, ZnO and silica/ZnO core/shell nanoparticles. Self-cleaning, antireflective coatings were obtained with Langmuir-Blodgett technique. Porous ceramic membranes were prepared for the coupling of separation with photocatalysis and separation with chemisorption using the dip coating technique.