Pathogenic microbes cause infections and are excellent at adapting to the disinfection
strategies that address their biochemistry. The growth in number of drug resistant
superbugs is alarming, and has attracted attention to alternative solutions. In recent
years, researchers have put effort into designing nanomaterials with activatable antimicrobial
properties initiated by light irradiation. The underlying mechanisms of these nanomaterials'
photoactivatable antimicrobial effect may vary from reactive oxygen species generation,
to heat production or pH variation in procedures like photocatalysis, photodynamic
therapy, photothermal lysis and photoinduced acidification. In this article, we review
the photoactive nanomaterial solutions for fighting against microbial diseases, especially
bacterial infections. This Review shines light on the fundamental principles, important
developments, promising applications, and limitations of current technologies as well
as open questions that these methods may answer or help to answer.