On January 1, 2000 The European Physical Journal launched its new section EPJ E on SOFT MATTER motivated by the conviction of a large number of European scientists that a journal covering all aspects of “Soft Matter" was needed. The study of soft condensed matter has stimulated fruitful interactions between physicists, chemists, and engineers, and is now reaching out to biologists. Most importantly, complex fluids have many applications in everyday life and fundamental research in “Soft Condensed Matter" is often closely linked to industrial research.
A broad interdisciplinary community involving all these areas of science has emerged over the last 30 years, and with it our knowledge of Soft Condensed Matter has grown considerably with the active investigation of polymers, supramolecular assemblies of designed organic molecules, liquid crystals, colloids, lyotropic systems, emulsions, biopolymers, biomembranes, ... The central goal of EPJ E SOFT MATTER is to provide a meeting place for the various communities involved in “Soft Condensed Matter" science; a “melting pot" for ideas coming from physics, chemistry, materials science and, not to forget, also from biology. EPJ E SOFT MATTER aims to become a forum for the publication and discussion of complementary contributions from all the community involved in studying soft condensed matter and complex molecular assemblies. It should form a bridge for the understanding of structure formation and properties on the one side and the synthesis and design of new materials and functional systems on the other side.
Beyond mere scientific soundness, papers should only be accepted that represent a significant step forward and are not just a minor improvement or advance on earlier work. The scope of a paper, as outlined in its introduction, must make it understandable to the general reader in soft condensed matter. Interdisciplinary papers are encouraged. The journal provides also adequate scope for presentation and discussion of controversial ideas (perspectives, commentaries, ...). It intends to explain and open up to all communities involved in “Soft Matter" science fundamental current problems of common interest which are intensively debated or not yet sufficiently well-known. In order to strengthen the links between the various communities, certain issues of EPJ E SOFT MATTER are dedicated to specific topics of general interest in Soft Condensed Matter: among the first of these issues are “Polyelectrolytes” and “Molecular Functional Materials”.
It is already clear from the work published during the last year that EPJ E is proving a success, with a large number of high quality submissions already in the pipeline. The limited number of pages available turns out to be an advantage as it requires a strict and thorough selection of the papers accepted for publication. Commentaries on “Glass transition in thin polymer films” and on “Polymer crystallization" have also drawn attention to the journal.
Finally, the Editors-in-Chief are keen to stimulate discussion amongst our community even further. It is therefore very desirable that potentially exciting - or controversial - manuscripts are pointed out to the Editors-in-Chief, so that the possibility of additional commentaries or editorial comments can be considered; where related papers are under consideration they can be published together to encourage debate.
The large number of submissions and the highly appreciated possibility of debate within a journal demonstrate that the scope of EPJ E SOFT MATTER is actually addressing the needs of the community. So, while EPJ E SOFT MATTER has not yet fully accomplished its mission, we feel that it is on the right track.