Article | Published:

Integrated 3D-printed reactionware for chemical synthesis and analysis

Nature Chemistry volume 4, pages 349354 (2012) | Download Citation

Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) printing has the potential to transform science and technology by creating bespoke, low-cost appliances that previously required dedicated facilities to make. An attractive, but unexplored, application is to use a 3D printer to initiate chemical reactions by printing the reagents directly into a 3D reactionware matrix, and so put reactionware design, construction and operation under digital control. Here, using a low-cost 3D printer and open-source design software we produced reactionware for organic and inorganic synthesis, which included printed-in catalysts and other architectures with printed-in components for electrochemical and spectroscopic analysis. This enabled reactions to be monitored in situ so that different reactionware architectures could be screened for their efficacy for a given process, with a digital feedback mechanism for device optimization. Furthermore, solely by modifying reactionware architecture, reaction outcomes can be altered. Taken together, this approach constitutes a relatively cheap, automated and reconfigurable chemical discovery platform that makes techniques from chemical engineering accessible to typical synthetic laboratories.

  • Compound C21H17BrN2O

    1-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)-2,3-dihydro-1H-imidazo[1,2-f]phenanthridin-4-ylium bromide

  • Compound C22H20N2O

    1-(4-Methoxyphenyl)-1,2,3,12b-tetrahydroimidazo[1,2-f]phenanthridine

  • Compound C22H19BrN2O

    1-(4-Methoxyphenyl)-2,3-dihydro-1H-imidazo[1,2-f]phenanthridin-4-ylium bromide

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK via Creativity@HOME. L.C. thanks the Royal Society/Wolfson Foundation for a Merit Award. We thank R.M. Eadie (University of Glasgow) for samples of 2-bromoethylphenanthridinium bromide and E. Malone and K. Kondo (NextFab Studio, Philadelphia) for assistance with building the fabricator.

Author information

Author notes

    • Mark D. Symes
    • , Philip J. Kitson
    •  & Jun Yan

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. WestCHEM, School of Chemistry, The University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

    • Mark D. Symes
    • , Philip J. Kitson
    • , Jun Yan
    • , Craig J. Richmond
    • , Geoffrey J. T. Cooper
    •  & Leroy Cronin
  2. School of Physics & Astronomy, Kelvin Building, The University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

    • Richard W. Bowman
  3. Uformia AS, Industriveien 6, 9062 Furuflaten, Norway

    • Turlif Vilbrandt

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Contributions

L.C. conceived the idea and the organized the fabricator assembly, M.D.S., P.J.K., T.V., G.J.T.C. and R.W.B. designed the reactionware, M.D.S. and P.J.K. printed the devices, M.D.S., P.J.K., J.Y. and C.J.R. performed the experiments, L.C., M.D.S, P.J.K., J.Y. and C.J.R. analysed the results and M.D.S. and L.C. co-wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Leroy Cronin.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1313

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