Flexible Automation: A New Approach to Meet Evolving Challenges
April 20, 2022
2022 Fagnou Lecture
The Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences hosts guest speakers from the industry, research institutes, other universities, and from our own campus as part of a regular seminar series during the Fall and Winter terms.
Automated executions of chemical synthesis and discovery has risen as a critical enabling technology. New tools combining advanced robotics with experiment planning by machine learning, known as self-driving labs, are now attainable. However, the optimal deployment of these technologies remains under development, requiring a recursive design-make-build cycle dedicated to tuning and evolving the robotic platform.
This new approach has been termed ‘Flexible automation’ and enables the cost and time-effective design, construction and reconfiguration of automated experiments. By leveraging many of the principles from Industry 4.0, including rapid fabrication, Internet-of-Things devices, cloud-based software, and open source API we have created a set of simple reconfigurable tools to address a diverse set of applications spanning pharmaceutical process chemistry and even impacting mining and resource extraction. This presentation will introduce this method and provide case studies.
Prof. Jason Hein
Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia
Jason Hein received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry in 2000 and Ph.D. in asymmetric reaction methodology in 2005 from the University of Manitoba (NSERC PGS-A/B, Prof. Philip G. Hultin). In 2006, he became an NSERC postdoctoral research fellow with Prof. K. Barry Sharpless and Prof. Valery V. Fokin at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. In 2010, he became a senior research associate with Prof. Donna G. Blackmond at the Scripps Research Institute. He began his independent career at the University of California, Merced in 2011, employing in-situ kinetic reaction analysis to rapidly profile and study complex networks of reactions. In 2015, he moved to the University of British Columbia to continue the development of automated reaction analytical technology to serve mechanistic organic chemistry. His research has resulted in a collection of prototype modular robotic tools and integrated analytical hardware which create the first broadly applicable automated reaction profiling toolkit geared toward enabling autonomous research and discovery. He was the co-lead of Project ADA; the world's first autonomous discovery platform for thin film materials, supported by Natural Resources Canada, co-PI of the MADNESS team supported by the DARPA Accelerated Molecular Discovery Program and an Associate Director of the Acceleration Consortium spearheaded by the University of Toronto. Most recently he was awarded the NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement in 2021.