Chemputer: Chemistry goes digital

A robot powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) is helping chemists to discover new molecules and chemical reactions...
20 July 2018
Presented by Marika Ottman
Production by Marika Ottman.


Mixing chemicals together causes reactions and produces new molecules. With so many different chemicals in existence, there are infinite combinations that can be made, and millions of chemical reactions yet to be tried. But doing these tests is very time consuming, laborious and has a low success rate; it’s also very susceptible to human failings, like bias and fatigue. To surmount this, University of Glasgow chemist Lee Cronin has invented a robot to test his chemical combinations for him. What’s more impressive is that this robot can actually learn. By testing random chemical combinations from an initial set of 18 chemicals, the robot gathered data about chemical reactivity and could predict what other chemical combinations would cause reactions. This helped the robot decide which chemical combinations to test next. Marika Ottman spoke with Lee Cronin to hear how his “Chemputer” came about…


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