This article in Nature News describes the increasing interest in the use of ‘robo-chemists’ to carry out traditional organic chemistry to synthesise any organic molecule which may be required – eliminating the need for synthetic chemists such as you or me!
Such a device would certainly be useful for the synthesis and screening of agrochemicals or pharmaceuticals, which are currently painstakingly worked on by teams of researchers one reaction at a time.
Whitby are currently working on the ‘Dial-a-Molecule’ project, which runs until 2015 and could allow for computational algorithms which predict how a molecule can be built up and run reactions as continual processes. They hope that such a device will transform chemistry and encourage chemists to share their data more freely with each other in order to build up the knowledge required to bring such projects to life.
Although the requirements for such machines are massive, many researchers believe that they are still possible, and could be made in the not so distant future.
This article proves fascinating reading, and opens up the debate on whether such devices could be possible, practical or remotely affordable. What do you think?