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Materials in 2020

BY ANY MEASURE, 2020 has been a funny old year. But amid all the disruption and difficulties caused by the covid-19 pandemic, materials science has kept on going – research has continued to be conducted and findings published. Materials scientists may have had to change how they work, but they have still continued to work, and this is reflected in all the advances and developments that have occurred this year.

Materials in 2020 looks back on what has happened in the materials science field in this strangest of years. It contains features on developments in five important areas of materials research – lithium-ion batteries, energy storage, perovskite solar cells, quantum materials and biomaterials. These five features are not intended as comprehensive reviews, but just to provide a snapshot of the kind of research that was published this year and to highlight some of the main trends and themes. As such, the features roam widely, covering everything from room-temperature superconductors to flow-cell batteries to spider silk.

This feature also contains interviews with four leading materials scientists to discover how they and their research have fared this year. Encouragingly, although the pandemic obviously had an impact, all four managed to keep their research activities going to some extent throughout the year, with three of them even finding ways to apply their materials research to the struggle against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
This hopefully suggests that advances and developments in materials science should continue coming in 2021, particularly if it turns out to be a bit less of a funny old year.

Jon Evans
Editor of Materials in 2020