University of Cambridge, Ley Group
Q: WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF YOUR LAB’S RESEARCH?
A: One of the focus points for Ley Group research is the development of continuous flow synthesis methods. We aim to include new enabling techniques into our work to facilitate the collection of data relevant to the reactions we conduct. We work across the early synthesis spectrum – from discovery to scale-up and process development.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR PREVIOUS WORKFLOW AND EXPERIENCED CHALLENGES?
A: Standard detectors we use in our work can be problematic when trying to discern what is in a product mixture leaving a flow reactor. For example, UV detectors are useful only in very restricted flow-based situations and don’t give compositional information. IR is a step up from this, but suffers from issues when peaks in starting materials, products and by-products overlap. Some transformations may also lead to undetectable changes in an IR spectrum. While flow-based NMR can be good when it’s usable, its expense and lack of resolution at a bench-top level hinder its utility.
Q: WHY DID YOU INCORPORATE THE EXPRESSION CMS INTO YOUR LABORATORY?
A: The expression CMS struck the perfect balance between cost, ease-of-use and detection capabilities that we needed for our research. We’re able to get large amounts of relevant information about reaction mixtures, in real-time, without worrying in most cases about overlapping peaks or detection signals. This information is used by our control systems to make decisions about product stream composition, allowing us to automate procedures such as reaction telescoping, process start up and self-optimization. The expression CMS software is fantastic also – everything is recorded, letting us go back over the raw data to gain even more insights into how product compositions change over time in our processes.
Q: TO WHOM WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE EXPRESSION CMS?
A: I would recommend the system to any group that works with continuous flow chemistry, especially those that need real-time analysis of stream compositions. The ease at which the unit can be integrated into any process makes it an extremely attractive unit to use. It’s also very easy to switch the expression CMS into a standalone MS unit for independent sample analysis, making it versatile in any organic chemistry laboratory.
Q: HAVE YOU CONTRIBUTED TO ANY PUBLICATIONS USING THE EXPRESSION CMS? A: Org. Process Res. Dev., 2016, 20, 386–394