Our research focuses on the deployment of multiple immobilized molecular catalysts on a flow microreactor platform to convert elementary starting materials over telescoped reactions into chemically and structurally complex products. The interactions of different agents in multiple compartments on a solid-state platform result in a molecular factory.
A combination of multiple catalyst permutations and applied reaction conditions enables screening of diverse parameter spaces for the conversion of suitable starting materials. This approach aims at not only synthesizing one catalysis product from one starting material, but multiple products from the same starting material and whole compound libraries. This bio-inspired approach resembles the biosynthetic processes that are taking place in a biological cell, in which multiple metabolites are often produced from a single molecule.
Our research comprises the design and synthesis of complementary catalysts, linkers and starting materials for heterogeneous catalysis with molecular catalyst monolayers, as well as the immobilization of these catalysts in flow microreactors and conducting synthetic operation on these platforms. This project is in close collaboration with the Mayor group and IBM Research - Zurich in Rüschlikon. The silicon-based flow microreactors are being fabricated by microfabrication techniques, are scalable in the number of compartments, and allow various reaction control features such as nanoscale electrode arrays, catalyst-supporting surfaces, externally controllable micro-heaters and nanophotonic sensing sites to be implemented and to be used as reaction feedback controls.