Synthetic liquid crystals and polymers started a hundred years ago - thanks to a number of inventive chemists. Other forms of soft matter were already under active study: colloids, biopolymers complex natural products, and even living tissues... But this huge expansion was built by separate communities, with their own way of thinking and their own channels of communication. In our days, this separation is obsolete. The time has come to bridge the gap between different disciplines, not only between Life Sciences and Materials Sciences, but also between physics, chemistry and technology.
Considering soft matter there are (at least) 3 reasons to start a unified ground:
- conceptually there are important links: for instance a comparison between surfactants and block copolymers is fruitful (and non trivial);
- for technological purposes, we are constantly facing formulation problems where colloids, polymers, surfactants, ... have to work together;
- during their own career many research engineers in physics, chemistry, drug delivery, ... will have to commute, between very different sectors. At each step they must retain the overall culture.
All this leads to the notion of a journal on Soft Matter; as broad as possible; covering chemistry, physics, biophysics and some mechanics. A number of us have been convinced of this need for some time. But the implementation was delicate. We wanted an energetic editorial policy - not a mail box system. A single editor in chief cannot cover such a vast field. On the other hand, we were skeptical about a dilution of the editorial responsibility - which always leads to patchwork journals.
Thus we came up with the present project: the main responsibilities are shared between four active researchers, covering chemistry, experimental physics and theory. We have thought about the future operations; the new journal can achieve serious refereeing and reasonable time constants. We believe that they can bring an important help to our community. And we hope that the community will respond. This beginning of a new millenium is a good time for a joint action on Soft Matter.
H. Ringsdorf, P.-G. de Gennes