Many properties of functional materials are quite different at the nanoscale, because at this length scale, the surface/interface energy becomes comparable to the bulk energy. Thus, the nature of various phase transitions at the nanoscale (e.g., structural, electronic, magnetic, metal-insulator) is altered. In addition, in functional materials with many coupled order parameters, quantum effects can dominate the response. We use the term nanoscale with three different context-specific connotations: it could refer to a cluster of atoms or molecules, a confined geometry as in a nanoscale grain or a superlattice, and a nanoscale region in the bulk. This field is still in its infancy, and much needs to be learned in terms of nucleation and thermodynamics at this scale. Materials of interest that we consider in this issue include, but are not limited to, ferroics (ferroelectrics, ferromagnets, ferroelastics), multiferroics (magnetoelectrics, ferrotoroidics), and complex functional materials such as those that exhibit colossal magnetoresistance and high-temperature superconductivity, including the recently discovered iron pnictide superconductors. Superconductors provide a fertile ground for quantum phase transitions.