A new system capable of automatically turning words into molecules on demand will open up the digitisation of chemistry, scientists say.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow’s School of Chemistry, who developed the system, claim it will lead to the creation of a “Spotify for chemistry”—a vast online repository of downloadable recipes for important molecules including drugs.
The creation of such a system could help developing countries more easily access medications, enable more efficient international scientific collaboration, and even support the human exploration of space.
The Glasgow team, led by Professor Lee Cronin, have laid the groundwork for digital chemistry with the development of what they call a “chemical processing unit”—an affordable desktop-sized robot chemist which is capable of doing the repetitive and time-consuming work of creating chemicals. Other robot chemists, built with different operating systems, have also been developed elsewhere.
In 1921, Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery that light is quantized, interacting with matter as a stream of particles called photons. Since these early days of quantum mechanics, it is known that photons also possess momentum. The photon’s ability to transfer momentum was used in a novel approach by scientists of the Max Born Institute, Uppsala University, and the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility to observe a fundamental process in the interaction of x-rays with atoms. The detailed experimental and theoretical results are reported in the journal Science.
Absorption as well as emission of a photon by an atom are fundamental processes of the interaction of light with matter. Much rarer are processes in which several photons simultaneously interact with one atom. The availability of intense laser beams since the 1960s has led to the development of “nonlinear optics,” which observes and utilizes such