Surface science has the goal to shed light on the fundamental aspects of chemistry and physics occurring at surfaces and interfaces. Especially, the study of chemical processes and electronic excitations at solid surfaces represents a powerful tool to unveil novel physicochemical concepts with direct implications for several fields, such as catalysis [1-3], gas sensing[ 4], desalination [5-7], and plasmonics [8,9], and, moreover, to test the ambient stability of materials and devices [10-12]. Moreover, recent upgrades of experimental tools and computational capabilities have opened new opportunities and challenges for surface science.
In this talk, I will highlight recent advances in application fields strictly connected to novel concepts emerging in surface science. Specifically, I will show for selected case-study examples that surface oxidation can be unexpectedly beneficial for improving the efficiency in electrocatalysis (hydrogen evolution reaction and oxygen evolution reaction) [2,13] and photocatalysis , as well as in gas sensing [4,14]. Moreover, I will discuss the adsorption-assisted mechanism in membrane distillation for seawater desalination . In all these applications, surface-science methodologies (both experimental and theoretical) have unveiled new physicochemical processes, whose efficiency can be further tuned by controlling surface phenomena, thus paving the way for a new era for the investigation of surfaces and interfaces of advanced materials.
Furthermore, I will discuss about the role of surface collective excitations (surface plasmons)  in novel applications such as thermoplasmonic membrane distillation for seawater desalination [6,7,16] and recovery of minerals  and, moreover, plasma-wave THz photodetection [13, 17-19].
 G. D'Olimpio, S. Nappini, M. Vorokhta, L. Lozzi, F. Genuzio, T. O. Menteş, V. Paolucci, B. Gürbulak, S. Duman, L. Ottaviano, A. Locatelli, F. Bondino, D. W. Boukhvalov and A. Politano, Enhanced electrocatalytic activity in GaSe and InSe nanosheets: the role of surface oxides, Adv. Funct. Mater. 30 (2020) 2005466.
 S. Nappini, D. W. Boukhvalov, G. D’Olimpio, L. Zhang, B. Ghosh, C.-N. Kuo, H. Zhu, J. Cheng, M. Nardone, L. Ottaviano, D. Mondal, R. Edla, J. Fuji, C. S. Lue, I. Vobornik, J. A. Yarmoff, A. Agarwal, L. Wang, L. Zhang, F. Bondino and A. Politano, Transition-metal dichalcogenide NiTe2: an ambient-stable material for catalysis and nanoelectronics, Adv. Funct. Mater. 30 (2020) 2000915.
 D. W. Boukhvalov, A. Marchionni, J. Filippi, R. Edla, S. Nappini, J. Fuji, C. N. Kuo, G. D’Olimpio, L. Ottaviano, C. S. Lue, P. Torelli, F. Vizza and A. Politano, Efficient electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction with PtSn4 via surface oxidation, J. Mater. Chem. A 8 (2020) 2349.
 V. Paolucci, G. D’Olimpio, C.-N. Kuo, C. S. Lue, D. W. Boukhvalov, C. Cantalini and A. Politano, Self-Assembled SnO2/SnSe2 Heterostructures: A Suitable Platform for Ultrasensitive NO2 and H2 Sensing, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 12 (2020) 34362.
 F. Macedonio, A. Politano, E. Drioli and A. Gugliuzza, Bi2Se3-assisted membrane crystallization, Mater. Horiz. 5 (2018) 912.
 A. Politano, P. Argurio, G. Di Profio, V. Sanna, A. Cupolillo, S. Chakraborty, H. A. Arafat and E. Curcio, Photothermal membrane distillation for seawater desalination, Adv. Mater. 29 (2017) 1603504.
 A. Politano, G. Di Profio, E. Fontananova, V. Sanna, A. Cupolillo and E. Curcio, Overcoming temperature polarization in membrane distillation by thermoplasmonic effects activated by Ag nanofillers in polymeric membranes, Desalination 451 (2019) 192.
 A. Politano, G. Chiarello, B. Ghosh, K. Sadhukhan, C.-N. Kuo, C. S. Lue, V. Pellegrini and A. Agarwal, 3D Dirac Plasmons in the Type-II Dirac Semimetal PtTe2, Phys. Rev. Lett. 121 (2018) 086804.
 K. Sadhukhan, A. Politano and A. Agarwal, Novel Undamped Gapless Plasmon Mode in a Tilted Type-II Dirac Semimetal, Phys. Rev. Lett. 124 (2020) 046803.
 G. D'Olimpio, C. Guo, C.-N. Kuo, R. Edla, C. S. Lue, L. Ottaviano, P. Torelli, L. Wang, D. W. Boukhvalov and A. Politano, PdTe2 transition-metal dichalcogenide: chemical reactivity, thermal stability and device implementation, Adv. Funct. Mater. 30 (2020) 1906556.
 D. W. Boukhvalov, R. Edla, A. Cupolillo, V. Fabio, R. Sankar, Y. Zhu, Z. Mao, J. Hu, P. Torelli, G. Chiarello, L. Ottaviano and A. Politano, Surface Instability and Chemical Reactivity of ZrSiS and ZrSiSe Nodal-Line Semimetals, Adv. Funct. Mater. 29 (2019) 1900438.
 J. Gao, A. Cupolillo, S. Nappini, F. Bondino, R. Edla, V. Fabio, R. Sankar, Y. W. Zhang, G. Chiarello and A. Politano, Surface Reconstruction, Oxidation Mechanism, and Stability of Cd3As2, Adv. Funct. Mater. 29 (2019) 1900965.
 G. Cheng, G. Wan long, X. Huang, Z. Libo, G. Chen, D. O. Gianluca, C. N. Kuo, C. S. Lue, P. Antonio, W. Lin, C. Xiaoshuang and L. Wei, Ultrasensitive Ambient-Stable SnSe2-based Broadband Photodetectors for Room-Temperature IR/THz Energy conversion and Imaging, 2D Mater. 7 (2020) 035026.
 G. D'Olimpio, F. Genuzio, T. O. Menteş, V. Paolucci, C. N. Kuo, A. Al Taleb, C. S. Lue, P. Torelli, D. Farias, A. Locatelli, C. Cantalini and A. Politano, Charge Redistribution Mechanisms in SnSe2 Surfaces Exposed to Oxidative and Humid Environments and their Related Influence on Chemical Sensing, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. (2020).
 E. Gontarek, F. Macedonio, F. Militano, L. Giorno, M. Lieder, A. Politano, E. Drioli and A. Gugliuzza, Adsorption-assisted transport of water vapour in super-hydrophobic membranes filled with multilayer graphene platelets, Nanoscale 11 (2019) 11521.
 A. Politano, F. Bonaccorso, A. E. Del Rio, E. Drioli, A. Gugliuzza, F. Macedonio and V. Pellegrini, Italian patent : Procedimento per la fabbricazione di una membrana composita con cristalli bidimensionali ottenuti per esfoliazione di materiali stratificati mediante tecniche di wet-jet milling. Filing date: 21/12/2018; First publication date: 22/6/2020 Acceptance: 22/11/2020, IT102018000020641
 C. Guo, Y. Hu, G. Chen, D. Wei, L. Zhang, Z. Chen, W. Guo, H. Xu, C.-N. Kuo, C. S. Lue, X. Bo, X. Wan, L. Wang, A. Politano, X. Chen and W. Lu, Anisotropic ultrasensitive PdTe2-based phototransistor for room-temperature long-wavelength detection, Sci. Adv. 6 (2020) eabb6500.
 H. Xu, C. Guo, J. Zhang, W. Guo, C. N. Kuo, C. S. Lue, W. Hu, L. Wang, G. Chen, A. Politano, X. Chen and W. Lu, PtTe2‐Based Type‐II Dirac Semimetal and Its van der Waals Heterostructure for Sensitive Room Temperature Terahertz Photodetection, Small 15 (2019) 1903362.
 L. Zhang, Z. Chen, K. Zhang, L. Wang, H. Xu, L. Han, W. Guo, Y. Yang, C.-N. Kuo, C. S. Lue, D. Mondal, J. Fuji, I. Vobornik, B. Ghosh, A. Agarwal, H. Xing, X. Chen, A. Politano and W. Lu, High-frequency rectifiers based on type-II Dirac fermions, Nat. Commun. 12 (2021) 1584.