By the time of reading this, the spring conference season has most likely drawn to a close; and as I write I have recently returned from the MRS Spring meeting in San Francisco (where I got my first, and probably last, taste of spring weather for the year). It was great to meet so many (albeit a very small proportion) of our readers, authors and reviewers at the meeting, and particularly exciting to be involved in the Bioelectronics session, where I announced the winners for the symposium presentation and poster awards. Congratulations once again to Jenny Du from the University of California, Santa Barbara for her presentation on Improving Charge Extraction Across Microbe–Electrode Interfaces Using Conjugated Oligoelectrolytes, and Debora W. Lin from Stanford University for her poster titled Towards a Biocompatible Conductive Nanotube Film: An In-Depth Investigation into Cellular Biocompatibility. In addition to the awards, Jenny and Debora will also shortly be contributing to the Materials Today Podcast and Blog, so be sure to visit to hear from them both.

In addition to the large physical meetings, by the time of reading our next Virtual Conference will have drawn to a close. For those of you able to attend the live events, such as the Question & Answer sessions, the poster voting, the delegate polls and the social media interaction, I hope you enjoyed the event, and the experience was rewarding. For those of you that weren’t able to make it, you can still view all the presentations and posters, for the next 12 months, by visiting Some of my favourites included a look at materials science applications through space and time in See the World through the Eyes of Science and Prof Valeria Nicolosi's presentation on the current state-of-the art in electron microscopy in Observing the Nanoworld: Electron Microscopy in the 21st Century. Please do keep your comments for suggested topics for Virtual Conferences coming in to

This spring we’ve also been running many webinars, and it looks like we’ll have 5–6 times as many webinars in 2013 as 2012. In part this is thanks to a special series of webinars being organized by Materials TodayAssociate Editor, Mike Weir – comprising a stellar line up of presentations. Head over to to catch up on what you missed, and sign up for upcoming events.

This issue of Materials Today covers fabrication, in the form of colloidal assembly and patterning, and organic solar cells. First up, Yadong Yin and colleagues review their recent work on the magnetic-field-guided assembly of colloidal matter, discussing how magnetic fields can be used to create 1D, 2D and 3D ordered structures. Second, R. Mohan Sankaran and Seung Whan Lee take a look at ‘direct writing’ as an alternative to lithography for the fabrication of patterned metallic and semiconducting materials. Antonio Facchetti highlights breakthroughs and recent progress in the development of polymer donor/polymer acceptor (all-polymer) organic photovoltaics; and finally, on a related topic, Emmanuel Stratakis and Emmanuel Kymakis consider how the introduction of plasmonic metallic nanoparticles photovoltaic devices can enhance the efficiency of organic photovoltaic devices.

Until next time, we hope you enjoy this issue of Materials Today.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2013.04.001