Welcome to the new look Materials Today! We hope that you agree that the stronger, more modern design is an improvement. But be reassured. All the normal sections of the magazine are here and will still be familiar.

This month's cover shows a Si membrane with asymmetric-shaped pores. With a maximum diameter of 3.5 μm and a minimum of 1.5 μm, the pores enable the separation of colloidal beads according to size as a result of the particles' random Brownian motion. The impressive scanning electron microscopy image, taken by Sven Matthias at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics before he moved to the California Institute of Technology, shows 1 μm spheres stuck to the porous membrane after drying.

It is a captivating image and is a worthy winner of the 2005 Materials Today cover competition. “The image illustrates the trapping of particles in engineered pits and requires little in the form of verbal explanation as the graphical content is so clear,” commented the judges, Elizabeth A. Holm of Sandia National Laboratories and Brian Derby of the University of Manchester, UK.

Nearly 200 images of materials-related research were entered into the competition. Not only was this a large increase in the number of entries over previous years, but the overall quality was also much improved. It was a very enjoyable pastime to look through the images as they arrived in the office. Conceptual images of molecular electronic circuits and models of giant nanotube architectures vied with micrographs of nanopatterned Au membranes and porous nanostructures to capture beautiful material structures. The texture of wear tracks in Al evoked tree bark, clusters of colloidal particles looked like a floral pattern from the 1960s, and an optical image of a bulk heterojunction solar cell seemed to nod toward Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock.

As well as engaging and enthusing the viewer, the best pictures effectively captured or explained scientific ideas, principles, and phenomena. This is a very important consideration. You only have to look at the double helix to see the power of an image that truly encapsulates the science involved. Indeed, the discovery of the double helix was itself the result of the quality of Rosalind Franklin's X-ray diffraction images of DNA fibers. You could even argue that some of the interest in carbon nanotubes is a result of its geometrically satisfying and instantly recognizable molecular structure. It is easy to use illustrations to show nanotubes as rolled up tubes of graphene sheets, and how else would you explain chiralities – both ‘armchair’ and ‘zigzag’?

It is my hope that the new design of Materials Today helps us to present the newest and most exciting research just as clearly.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(05)71194-9