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Robot chemists for organic synthesis

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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  • Full or part time
    Prof A I Cooper
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

This position will remain open until a suitable candidate has been found.

Description: Organic synthesis underpins multiple areas in society, from the production of drugs to the design of new functional polymers and other materials. There is increasing pressure to come up with cleaner chemical methods – for example, to avoid the use of harmful organic solvents – but it is often time-consuming and expensive to develop new organic reactions. In this project we will develop a new approach: the use of mobile robot chemists to discover new reactions. A video of our progress in the related area of solar fuels catalysis can be found here:

This project will involve both the development of the hardware and the software needed to drive the autonomous searching, as well as defining the chemical space and reactions that the robot will search. This approach is globally unique, and the student will graduate with a diverse skill set that could launch a career in either academic research or in industry. The project forms part of the £10 M Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials Design, and there will be multiple opportunities to interact with other members of that centre in a range of areas such as experimental chemistry, computational chemistry, robotics, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.

Environment: The studentship will be based in the Autonomous Chemistry Laboratory, which forms part of the Materials Innovation Factory (MIF), a new £82 M research facility, supervised by Professor A. I. Cooper FRS, the MIF Academic Director. The studentship is funded by the Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials Design, a £10 M, 10-year activity funded by the Leverhulme Trust. You will be part of the Cooper Group. Twitter: @AICooperGroup

Qualifications: A 2:1 or higher degree or equivalent in Chemistry is required. Project experience in synthetic chemistry would be an advantage. Ideally, the candidate will have strong programming abilities (e.g., in Java), but an interest in programming and a willingness to learn are essential.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Professor Cooper.

Funding Notes

Depending on the successful applicant (EU or non-EU) this studentship would include a commitment to work up to 50 hours per academic year to help with teaching-related activities in modules currently taught in the Department of Chemistry, as assigned by the Head of Department or his representative. The award will pay full home/EU tuition fees and a maintenance grant (£15,007pa in 201919) for 3.5 years. Non-EU applicants may have to contribute to the higher non-EU overseas fee.

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