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  • The 2021 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting was a hybrid event for the first time, featuring both an in-person meeting in Boston and a virtual meeting held separately. Nature Reviews Materials speaks to Gopal Rao, Chief Editor of Technical Content for MRS and Editor of MRS Bulletin, to find out what pandemic-era conference planning is like.

    • Ariane Vartanian
    Q&A
  • The Materials Research Society (MRS) fall meeting is a fixture in the conference calendar of the global materials science community. This year, for the very first time, the conference went hybrid, posing new opportunities, but also challenges, for organizers, speakers and attendees.

    Editorial
  • Environmentally benign and sustainable chemistry has the potential to address negative environmental impacts associated with the production and degradation of synthetic polymers. In particular, green synthesis of plastics could be achieved by the convergence of visible-light-driven photocatalysis and reversible-deactivation radical polymerization.

    • Yungyeong Lee
    • Cyrille Boyer
    • Min Sang Kwon
    Comment
  • The positive benefits afforded by the widespread use of plastics need to be reconciled with negative impacts on the environment and health across the entire plastics life cycle. Optimizing the balance in several facets of plastics production, use and waste management is necessary for a more sustainable relationship with these materials in the Anthropocene.

    • Denise M. Mitrano
    • Martin Wagner
    Comment
  • Lipid nanoparticles are going into billions of arms in the form of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, delivering, at last, on the promise of nanotechnology to revolutionize drug delivery. Revolutions have the ability to alter the course of history. In the case of nanotech-based drug delivery, with many promising applications being explored, it looks like lipid nanoparticles have done just that.

    Editorial
  • An article in Nature Nanotechnology reports the transport and interaction mechanisms of short interfering RNA-delivering gold nanoparticles in plant leaves.

    • Christine Horejs
    Research Highlight
  • Bioengineered platforms, intended to be used in the investigation of human health and disease, often incorporate cells of unknown ancestry or that lack diversity. To develop tools and platforms that benefit the entire human population, we must consider the ancestry of cells and intentionally diversify the cells we use in our designs.

    • Erika Moore
    • Josephine B. Allen
    • Elizabeth C. Wayne
    Comment
  • The United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, will meet this month in Glasgow. Countries will commit to new, ambitious targets for reducing emissions this decade. Delivering on these promises will depend on the development and wide implementation of green technologies.

    Editorial
  • An article in Nature Biomedical Engineering reports an in vivo workflow for the design of lipid nanoparticles to efficiently deliver mRNA to the lungs via nebulization.

    • Christine Horejs
    Research Highlight
  • An article in Nature Chemistry reports a tip-manipulated approach to build custom nanoarchitectures on a surface by activating, orienting and coupling together individual building blocks.

    • Ariane Vartanian
    Research Highlight
  • Scientists have reacted to COVID-19 restrictions by organizing virtual seminars and journal clubs to maintain engagement. The authors reflect on their experiences and lessons learned from organizing such initiatives and highlight how, far from being temporary substitutes of in-person counterparts, they can help foster more diverse, inclusive and environmentally friendly scientific exchange.

    • James P. K. Armstrong
    • Irene de Lázaro
    • Shrey Sindhwani
    Comment
  • Silica nanoparticles have entered clinical trials for a variety of biomedical applications, including oral drug delivery, diagnostics, plasmonic resonance and photothermal ablation therapy. Preliminary results indicate the safety, efficacy and viability of silica nanoparticles under these clinical scenarios.

    • Taskeen Iqbal Janjua
    • Yuxue Cao
    • Amirali Popat
    Comment
  • Qubits come in many shapes and forms. Some are better developed, some will make it easier to scale up to big quantum processors and some will require less effort to correct errors. One thing they have in common: they will all benefit from materials optimization.

    Editorial
  • Service activities are critical in the pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive academic environment. We must ensure that the efforts required by these activities are properly recognized through rebalancing the academic workload, such that service is not provided at the expense of career progression.

    • Andrea M. Armani
    • Christopher Jackson
    • Jessica Wade
    Comment
  • Lipid nanoparticles are essential to mRNA vaccines. The groundwork for lipid-based drug delivery systems was laid more than 40 years ago in the lab of Pieter Cullis, Professor at the University of British Columbia. Nature Reviews Materials talks to Pieter Cullis about the history and future of lipid nanoparticle–nucleic acid drugs.

    • Christine Horejs
    Q&A
  • A paper in Nature reports a laser-free method to entangle two trapped-ion qubits that has high fidelity and potential for scalability.

    • Giulia Pacchioni
    In Brief
  • As the pandemic extends into a third academic year, we must admit that mental health has become a major problem in academia. The responsibility to change academic culture begins at the top.

    Editorial
  • An article in Physical Review Applied reports an architecture based on a ring resonator that supports a network of superconducting qubits with enhanced connectivity and negligible crosstalk.

    • Giulia Pacchioni
    In Brief
  • An article in Physical Review Letters reports a formalism enabling the use of a D-Wave quantum annealer to sample the equilibrium ensemble of dense polymer mixtures.

    • Giulia Pacchioni
    In Brief