As is often the case at this time of year, I’m back in the Materials Today editorial office for a brief pause between trips, quickly putting together my latest slidedecks; having just returned from Graphene Week and ICMAT 2015, and getting ready to head to Shanghai for a composites meeting.

This year's Graphene Week took place in Manchester, and was my first experience of the conference; a highly impressive event. A fantastic plenary lineup was complemented by some great contributed sessions which sparked plenty of debate around the applications and future of graphene – with much discussion focused on alternative low dimensional materials. I was then able to head over to Singapore for the 2015ICMAT & IUMRS-ICA meeting in Singapore. Regular readers will of course know that this event marked the launch of Materials Today's Materials in Society lecture series. In front of 1000 materials scientists, Professor Subra Suresh, Chairman of the Elsevier Materials Science Council, introduced the inaugural presentations from Molly Stevens, on “Tissue engineering: latest advances in materials science”, Jay Whitacre, on “Innovating With Materials for Energy Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities” and Bin Liu on “The Wonderful World of AIEgens: Respect nature, influence future”.

Designed to highlight the impact materials science has on our everyday lives, these events will not just be a physical event, but will be preserved as an online lectures that everyone can access, understand and appreciate. These will be online on very shortly, and we very much welcome your suggestions for topics and presenters that will help demonstrate the role materials science plays in the 21st Century: to enter your nominations just visit

And sticking with the theme of “The Wonderful World of AIEgens” brings us to our first review of this issue, as Ben Zhong Tang and colleagues discuss AIE luminogens: Emission brightened by aggregation, with a focus on focused on mechanistic analysis. Next, Christophe Ballif and colleagues consider Recent advances and remaining challenges in thin-film silicon photovoltaic technology, describing how a combination of advances and precise control of plasmas over large areas has resulted in significant achievements in recent years. Turning to organic PV, Biao Xiao, Hongbin Wu, and Yong Cao review Solution-processed cathode interfacial layer materials for high-efficiency polymer solar cells, summarizing recent progress in solution-processed cathode interfacial layers that could significantly improve device performance. In our final review of the issue Ovidiu Ersen and coworkers are Exploring nanomaterials with 3D electron microscopy, and look at recent developments performed in the field of 3D imaging at the nanoscale when applied to nanomaterials and nanostructures.

As always, we (open and) close the issue with our regular Uncovered feature, with Li Zhang and colleagues’ Microscale flowers image, and a discussion of the controlled synthesis of Co3O4 nanostructures using soft-templates-assisted self-assembly. And remember, there's still time to submit your image for a cover of a 2016 issue of Materials Today: to enter visit

As always, we hope you enjoy this issue of Materials Today.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2015.07.006