In our group it is important to define scientific terms, especially terms for fundamental material properties. It is our view that the establishment of clear definitions is an underestimated challenge in our time. Normally it should arise from essential importance that scientist understand each other, which requirs a clear understanding of the terms they are using. However, as scientists in many different fields share common research interests, they each bring the terms and systems of their unique disciplines, resulting in a soup of unconnected terms that need to be clearly defined and standardized.
To this end, our group recently suggested a new principle to better define and evaluate multifunctional nanomaterials by extending the idea of atom economy to create the “multifunctional efficiency concept” (Box 1). We suggest evaluating the synthesis of a functional material not only based on yield and product selectivity (e.g. atom economy) but also with regard to the speciﬁc tasks the material can fulﬁll (number of functional units) and the simplicity of the production process (number of process steps).