How to explore chemical space using algorithms and automation

Gromski, P. S., Henson, A. B. , Granda, J. M. and Cronin, L. (2019) How to explore chemical space using algorithms and automation. Nature Reviews Chemistry, 3(2), pp. 119-128. (doi:10.1038/s41570-018-0066-y)

Gromski, P. S., Henson, A. B. , Granda, J. M. and Cronin, L. (2019) How to explore chemical space using algorithms and automation. Nature Reviews Chemistry, 3(2), pp. 119-128. (doi:10.1038/s41570-018-0066-y)

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Abstract

Although extending the reactivity of a given class of molecules is relatively straightforward, the discovery of genuinely new reactivity and the molecules that result is a wholly more challenging problem. If new reactions can be considered unpredictable using current chemical knowledge, then we suggest that they are not merely new but also novel. Such a classification, however, requires an expert judge to have access to all current chemical knowledge or risks a lack of information being interpreted as unpredictability. Here, we describe how searching chemical space using automation and algorithms improves the probability of discovery. The former enables routine chemical tasks to be performed more quickly and consistently, while the latter uses algorithms to facilitate the searching of chemical knowledge databases. Experimental systems can also be developed to discover novel molecules, reactions and mechanisms by augmenting the intuition of the human expert. In order to find new chemical laws, we must seek to question current assumptions and biases. Accomplishing that involves using two areas of algorithmic approaches: algorithms to perform searches, and more general machine learning and statistical modelling algorithms to predict the chemistry under investigation. We propose that such a chemical intelligence approach is already being used and that, in the not-too-distant future, the automated chemical reactor systems controlled by these algorithms and monitored by a sensor array will be capable of navigating and searching chemical space more quickly, efficiently and, importantly, without bias. This approach promises to yield not only new molecules but also unpredictable and thus novel reactivity.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Henson, Dr Alon and Granda, Dr Jaroslaw and Gromski, Dr Piotr and Cronin, Professor Leroy
Authors: Gromski, P. S., Henson, A. B., Granda, J. M., and Cronin, L.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Nature Reviews Chemistry
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN:2397-3358
ISSN (Online):2397-3358
Published Online:15 January 2019

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
503291Molecular-Metal-Oxide-nanoelectronicS (M-MOS): Achieving the Molecular LimitLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/H024107/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
562821Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC)Leroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/I033459/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
571901International Collaboration in Chemistry - Modular microtubular architectures for photo-driven water splittingLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J00135X/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
577391Programmable Molecular Metal Oxides (PMMOs) - From Fundamentals to ApplicationLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J015156/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
605821The Multi-Corder: Poly-Sensor TechnologyDavid CummingEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K021966/1ENG - ENGINEERING ELECTRONICS & NANO ENG
616021Energy and the Physical Sciences: Hydrogen Production using a Proton Electron BufferLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K023004/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
621351Synthetic Biology applications to Water Supply and RemediationSteven BeaumontEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K038885/1VPO VICE PRINCIPAL RESEARCH & ENTERPRISE
633821A Digital DNA Nano Writer (DNA NanoFab)Leroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/L015668/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
646611Programmable 'Digital' Synthesis for Discovery and Scale-up of Molecules, Clusters and NanomaterialsLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/L023652/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
685741SMARTPOM: Artificial-Intelligence Driven Discovery and Synthesis of Polyoxometalate ClustersLeroy CroninEuropean Research Council (ERC)670467CHEM - CHEMISTRY