In quantum-confined semiconductor nanostructures, electrons exhibit distinctive behavior compared with that in bulk solids. This enables the design of materials with tunable chemical, physical, electrical, and optical properties. Zero-dimensional semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) offer strong light absorption and bright narrowband emission across the visible and infrared wavelengths and have been engineered to exhibit optical gain and lasing. These properties are of interest for imaging, solar energy harvesting, displays, and communications. Here, we offer an overview of advances in the synthesis and understanding of QD nanomaterials, with a focus on colloidal QDs, and discuss their prospects in technologies such as displays and lighting, lasers, sensing, electronics, solar energy conversion, photocatalysis, and quantum information.