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CrystEngComm Journal

Although the concept of quantum confinement was introduced more than thirty years ago, a wide application of the quantum dots is still limited by the fact that monodisperse quantum dots with controlled optoelectronic properties are typically synthesized on a relatively small scale. Larger scale synthesis techniques are usually not able to produce monodisperse nanoparticles yet. In this contribution, we illustrate the capability of the combination of transmission electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction to reveal detailed and scale-bridging information about the complex microstructure of non-monodisperse quantum dots, which is the first step towards a further upscalling of the techniques for production of quantum dots with controlled properties. As a model system, CdSe quantum dots synthesized using an automated robotic hot-injection method at different temperatures were chosen. The combined microstructure analytics revealed the size and shape of the CdSe nanocrystals and the kind, density and arrangement of planar defects. The role of the planar defects in the particle coarsening by oriented attachment and the effect of the planar fault arrangement on the phase constitution, on the crystallographic coherence of the counterparts and on the optoelectronic properties are discussed.

June 11, 2020
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Combinatorial Science Journal

Translation of a manual process to high throughput for research and development requires special consideration. One important and often unreported aspect is the establishment of an efficient cleaning routine. This becomes significant, as precious time and, in particular, material would be lost, that is, when low-quality high-throughput experimentation is involved. We present a fully automated cleaning routine of the challenging synthesis of cadmium selenide quantum dots. Manual, semiautomated, and fully automated cleaning protocols were executed and compared in terms of spectral similarities of the synthesized colloids. Only the fully automated protocol enabled true 24/7 operation.

 

June 1, 2020
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ChemCatChem Journal

The selective hydroconversion of 5‐hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) to biofuels is currently highly sought‐for. While the literature has demonstrated that this reaction is possible on promoted Ni catalysts, we show here that a monometallic, non‐promoted Ni/SBA‐15 catalyst, prepared by incipient wetness impregnation, can convert HMF to 2,5‐dimethylfuran (DMF) and to 2,5‐dimethyltetrahydrofuran (DMTHF) at 180 °C, in a consecutive way. Through a control over reaction time, high yields to DMF (71 %, at conversion of 93 %) or DMTHF (97 %, at conversion of 100 %) can be achieved. Kinetic modelling suggests a preferential route to DMF via 5‐methylfurfural (MFFR) as intermediate, though the route via 2,5‐bis(hydroxylmethyl)furan (BHMF) is also present. The favored route in the experimental conditions involves the hydrogenolysis of the hydroxyl group of HMF as first step, followed by the hydrogenation of the aldehyde function, to methylfurfuryl alcohol (MFOL). It is suggested a higher reaction rate of hydrogenation or hydrogenolysis of the side group is linked to the presence of a methyl group in the molecule. No hydrogenation of the furan ring is detected on the intermediates.

May 29, 2020
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ACS Publications

An enzyme degassing method for oxygen-intolerant polymerizations was implemented in a commercially available automated parallel synthesizer and tested for reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerizations performed in open vessels. For this purpose, a recently reported methodology that employs the enzyme glucose oxidase (GOx) to deplete oxygen in reaction media was utilized. The effectiveness of this approach to perform unattended parallel polymerization reactions in open vessels was demonstrated by comparing experimental results to those obtained under similar experimental conditions but utilizing the common degassing method of sparging N2 to remove oxygen. The proposed experimental technique displayed good precision in performing RAFT polymerizations and good control of the obtained polymers and could be easily adapted to other systems where the removal of oxygen is mandatory. This alternative high-throughput/high-output method may have the potential to increase productivity in research projects where oxygen-intolerant reactions are involved.

 

April 30, 2020
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ACS Publications

Hybrid, e.g. organic inorganic, perovskites from the type methylammonium lead iodide (CH3NH3PbI3), are promising solar cell materials. However, due to the large parameter space spanned by the manifold combinations of divalent metals with organic cations and anions, an efficient approach is needed to rapidly test and categorize new promising materials. Herein, we developed a high throughput approach for the automated synthesis of perovskite layers with different precursor ratios at varying annealing temperatures. The layers were analyzed by optical absorption and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy as well as X-ray diffraction (XRD) and evaluated using two different procedures. The first one is a stepwise exclusion of non-performing reactant ratios and synthesis conditions by using both spectroscopic techniques, followed by a final validation of the procedure by XRD. In the second procedure, only PL results were consulted in combination with high throughput screening using design of experiments (DoE) to reduce the total number of experiments needed and compared to the manual cascade approach. Noteworthy, by simple PL screening, it was possible to identify the best ratio of perovskite to byproducts and annealing temperature. Thus, only with PL more detailed results as with the manual protocol were reached, while at the same time the effort for characterization was significantly reduced (by 60 % of the experimental time). In conclusion, our approach opens a way towards fast and efficient identification of new promising materials at different reaction and process conditions.

March 19, 2020
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ACS Publications

Copolymerization of isoprene (IP) with glycidyl methacrylate (GMA) was performed under RAFT (reversible addition–fragmentation chain-transfer) polymerization conditions in a platform for high-output experimentation. Covering the range between 1 and 0.2 molar fraction of IP in the feed, four sets of reactions were carried out at 10, 15, 20, and 30 h at 115 °C. The kinetic data obtained were used to estimate the reactivity ratios using a nonlinear least-squares approach (NLLS). Reactivity ratios rGMA = 0.61 and rIP = 0.74 indicate that both monomers tend to crosspropagate in agreement with known literature values. Concerning the RAFT study, relatively good control and livingness of the copolymerization was observed except for the experiment in which IP represents 20 mol % in the feed. 1H NMR characterization confirmed the presence of both monomers in the final copolymer, particularly the presence of the epoxy ring of GMA which is susceptible to post polymerization reactions. Finally, preliminary results on the hydrogenation of various polymers are discussed.

February 28, 2020
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Carbohydrate Research Journal

Rhamnan and rhamnan sulfate are naturally occurring carbohydrates that have important biological functions and possible therapeutic applications, but studies are limited to the microheterogeneous mixtures from natural sources. This work reports the first synthesis of any sulfated rhamnan fragments and successful automation of the process with a recently developed automated solution-phase approach using N-iodosuccinimide/trimethylsilyl triflate (NIS/TMSOTf) promotor and levulinoyl ester deprotection conditions. The automated solution-phase activation/deprotection approach was initially able to create alpha 1 → 2, 1 → 3 type rhamnan di- and trisaccharide in moderate yields. Once these targets were achieved, a process to use SO3•pyridine complex in DMF for sulfation compatible with an automated solution-phase liquid handling system was developed and successfully applied to carbohydrate sulfation to create two rhamnan sulfate fragments with differing monosulfation patterns.

 

January 22, 2020
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Catalysis Today Journal

A high-throughput (HT) methodology was applied for the synthesis, characterization and catalytic testing of silica and alumina supported Cu- and Ni-based catalysts for glucose hydrogenation. A design of Experiment (DoE) approach was also used in all steps. The deposition and reduction of both metals was performed using the chemical reduction with hydrazine method. In total, 36 catalysts were synthetized, characterized and tested in 5 days. The amount of metal deposited on the support was chosen as the discriminative and determining parameter. The catalysts were tested at low temperature (130 °C) in the hydrogenation of glucose to sorbitol. The results showed that the chemical reduction-precipitation method could be performed using fully automatized robots. The deposition of the metals strongly depended on the nature of the support, the temperature of the reduction and hydrazine/H2O ratio. The maximum metal precipitation occurred at higher temperature (70 °C) and lower N2H4/H2O ratio (0.04 mol/mol) in both cases. The results clearly showed that glucose conversion is higher for the catalysts synthesized at 70 °C compared to the catalysts synthesized at 50 °C, irrespective of the metal precursors, supports and hydrazine/water ratios employed during catalysts syntheses. With a total timespan of around 5 days we showed that HT methods applied to all the steps (synthesis, characterization and testing) can significantly reduce the time needed to develop a new catalytic process.

January 6, 2020
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Chemical Science Journal

Porous liquids are an emerging class of materials and to date little is known about how to best design their properties. For example, bulky solvents are required that are size-excluded from the pores in the liquid, along with high concentrations of the porous component, but both of these factors may also contribute to higher viscosities, which are undesirable. Hence, the inherent multivariate nature of porous liquids makes them amenable to high-throughput optimisation strategies. Here we develop a high-throughput robotic workflow, encompassing the synthesis, characterisation and property testing of highly-soluble, vertex-disordered porous organic cages dissolved in a range of cavity-excluded solvents. As a result, we identified 29 cage–solvent combinations that combine both higher cage-cavity concentrations and more acceptable carrier solvents than the best previous examples. The most soluble materials gave three times the pore concentration of the best previously reported scrambled cage porous liquid, as demonstrated by increased gas uptake. We were also able to explore alternative methods for gas capture and release, including liberation of the gas by increasing the temperature. We also found that porous liquids can form gels at higher concentrations, trapping the gas in the pores, which could have potential applications in gas storage and transportation.

December 16, 2019
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Royal Society of Chemistry Journal

We report on low molar mass cationic RAFT agents that provide predictable molar mass and low molar mass dispersities (Đm) in ab initio emulsion polymerization. Thus RAFT emulsion polymerization of styrene in the presence of the protonated RAFT agent, ((((cyanomethyl)thio)carbonothioyl)(methyl)amino)pyridin-1-ium toluenesulfonate (4), and the analogous methyl-quaternized RAFT agents, 4-((((cyanomethyl)thio)carbonothioyl)(methyl)amino)-1-methylpyridin-1-ium dodecyl sulfate (6), provide low dispersity polystyrene with Đm 1.2–1.4 for Mn ∼ 20 000. We postulate that the success of ab initio emulsion polymerization with 4 is due to the hydrophilicity of the pyridinium group, which is such that the water soluble RAFT agent partitions predominantly into the aqueous phase under the conditions of the experiment and that 4 provides little retardation. With 6, when the counterion is dodecyl sulfate, we can achieve “surfactant-free” RAFT emulsion polymerization to provide a low Đm polystyrene. However, the RAFT end-group is lost on isolation of the polymer. Preliminary results show that this class of RAFT agent is broadly applicable in ab initio emulsion polymerization of other more-activated monomers (e.g., butyl acrylate, butyl methacrylate). Furthermore, cyanomethyl(pyridin-4-yl)carbamodithioate (3, the RAFT agent in neutral form) provides molar mass control and Đm < 1.8 in ab initio emulsion polymerization of less activated monomers, specifically, the vinyl esters, vinyl acetate and vinyl benzoate.

December 1, 2019