Synthetic chemistry is important across countless technological areas, from medicines to energetics to advanced coatings to functional materials. While our synthetic capabilities have developed rapidly over the last century, current approaches are still slow and inefficient, with poor reproducibility and scalability and limited use of prior knowledge. Such an approach not only limits production of known materials, but also impedes discovery of better synthetic routes and completely new molecules.
The DARPA Make-It program is automating small molecule discovery and synthesis to propel the field beyond conventional batch-based, intuition-driven capabilities. Make-It is developing artificial intelligence-based approaches to plan and optimize synthetic routes, coupled with methods for fully automated synthesis that include algorithms for automation and process control, interconnected fluidic modules for continuous synthesis, and in-line characterization and purification. Researchers are also working on methods to rapidly explore the vast parameter space associated with synthesis, which has only been minimally sampled by hand thus far. Make-It seeks to provide the foundational technologies required to transform synthetic chemistry to an information-centric science, accelerating the pace of chemical innovation and small molecule manufacturing.
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