Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer).
While automated reaction systems typically work for the synthesis of pre-defined molecules, automated systems to discover reactivity are more challenging. Here the authors report an autonomous organic reaction search engine that allows discovery of the most reactive pathways in a multi-reagent, multistep reaction system.
Developing cleaner chemical processes often involves sophisticated flow-chemistry equipment that is not available in many economically developing countries. For reactions where it is the data that are important rather than the physical product, the networking of chemists across the internet to allow remote experimentation offers a viable solution to this problem.
Creating chemical systems that can model living systems is far from easy. However, the evolution of oil droplets in water through the application of artificial selective pressure to produce droplets with dramatically different — yet specific — behaviours, is an encouraging step in this direction.