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.
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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.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Supplementary Movie 1 (MOV 15090 kb)
Supplementary Movie 2 (MOV 9654 kb)
Crystallographic data for compound 1 (CIF 37 kb)
Crystallographic data for compound 2 (CIF 27 kb)
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Symes, M., Kitson, P., Yan, J. et al. Integrated 3D-printed reactionware for chemical synthesis and analysis. Nature Chem 4, 349–354 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1313
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