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Engineering chemistry for the future of organic synthesis

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Ley, SV 


Societal and commercial pressures are impacting more than ever on the methods and techniques by which we assemble today's functional molecules. A holistic appreciation of this complex eco-system necessitates the invention of new tools and stimulates innovative thinking. In particular, the labour intensive and unsustainable practices of the past are being replaced by a more machine-based approach. This engineering of chemistry goes beyond the design of simple, enabling mechanical contrivances to encompass a full range of artificial intelligence (AI) methods, machine learning algorithms, advanced robotics and reaction profiling techniques. Integration of these systems with data collection and evaluation are the new drivers for success. Access to wider process windows, improved mixing and mass and heat transfer methods are providing early kinetic data that aids discovery. Mechanochem, photo-redox and electrochemical devices are further adding to the repertoire of the synthetic chemist. Flow chemistry and continuous processing methods are similarly breaking new ground as delineated by many of authors in this Symposium in Print. Indeed, flow chemistry has proven to be very amenable to automation over several telescoped reaction steps leading to complex natural products and active pharmaceutical ingredients (API's) in particular. The modular nature and flexibility of these systems assists in designing reactor configurations that can accommodate in-line purification, which are increasingly being used in downstream product processing.



3101 Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 31 Biological Sciences, 3404 Medicinal and Biomolecular Chemistry, 3405 Organic Chemistry, 34 Chemical Sciences

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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K009494/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/M004120/1)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) (737266)