Organic materials have been of increased interest for a number of years now for their application in electronic devices. We've seen many advances over recent years in areas such as thin film solar cells, sensors, photovoltaics, and flexible electronic devices. Materials Today is devoting its October issue to showcase some of the features of these fascinating materials and their application.

The popularity of organic materials is also due to their successful impact on the electronics industry and our day to day lives. We're seeing a vast range of applications in medical applications for example and even in our own living rooms with high resolution rich colour flat panel TVs, and on our roofs in the form of solar panels.

One of the biggest breakthroughs has of course been in solar cell technology and our lead article by Jenny Nelson reviews solar cells made from a conjugated polymer blended and a fullerene derivative, the efficiency of these solar cells has risen a staggering 9% over the last 10 years making them an ideal candidate for mass commercialization. Jenny Nelson reviews developments in both materials science and device physics for organic photovoltaics.

Light emitting materials have revolutionized our televisions through the launch of OLED TVs and as the authors of our next paper say, “whilst there is still room for improvement” this paper will review comprehensively advances made to date in the field of light emitting materials, their application and potential future.

Tomiki Ikeda and Toru Ube report in our next review article on a new class of material that can convert light energy into mechanical work, and show a number of 3D movements achieved simply from the exposure to a light source. Tomiki and Toru finish by discussing some of the potential applications of these photomobile polymer materials.

In our final review paper this month a group of scientists from Italy look at liquid crystals. We are all familiar with our liquid crystal displays which are controlled by an applied electric field that effects the optical response of the liquid crystal which then relaxes back to its “off” state when the field is removed. Well Tommaso Bellini et al., report on a new hybrid liquid crystal that is able to retain its alignment even when the field is removed. The authors review this interesting breed of hybrid material with some comments on future direction and application.

We hope you enjoy this lively issue of Materials Today and look forward to hearing from you on any comments or suggestions you may have.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(11)70196-1