The group of Professor Lee Cronin at the University of Glasgow has combined machine learning with a chemical reaction system to speed up the discovery of new chemical reactions, which is an inherently unpredictable and time consuming process. This new approach of an Organic Synthesis Robot uses a Spinsolve Benchtop NMR spectrometer as an integral component. Their work has just been published in the prestigious journal Nature: J. M. Granda, L. Donina, V. Dragone, D.-L. Long and L. Cronin, Nature559, 377–381 (2018), DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0307-8
Photograph of the chemical robot
The photo shows the impressive setup of the chemical robot with 27 pumps, valves and six reactors, as well as NMR, IR and MS spectrometers for real-time analytics.
The group of Professor Yoshida at the Department of Synthetic Chemistry and Biological Chemistry of Kyoto University has recently published an article showing how Spinsolve benchtop NMR spectroscopy can be used to optimise the reactions of aminating reagents to achieve an efficient C–N bond formation without using any catalyst.
Two recent publications (link here and here) in international journals highlight the potential of using the Spinsolve benchtop NMR for real time chemical reaction monitoring. Interest in using NMR spectroscopy to monitor chemical reactions has been increasing as the information can be used to optimise yield and minimise waste in order to enhance sustainability of the production process.
One of papers from the Ley group at Cambridge University (Musio et al., ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng, 2017) describes how real-time reaction monitoring on Fluorine can be used to optimise the reaction and reduce the environmental impact in the synthesis of functional fluorinated products. The other paper from the Blümich group at RWTH Aachen (Singh et al., Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 409, pp 7223–7234, 2017) evaluates the on-line benchtop NMR reaction monitoring method against off-line GC and high-field NMR methods and finds excellent agreement between them.
Professor Steven Ley’s laboratories are located in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. Their research specialises in flow chemistry and organic synthesis. They are renowned for collaborations with academic and industrial partners. Précising their work, Steve says
“Complex synthesis remains a challenging occupation requiring an exceptional level of experimental skill, extensive knowledge of both mechanistic and molecular reactivity, and a bold, inventive, and creative spirit. It is the combination of these qualities that transforms the synthesis process from one of simple logistics to an art form.”