Chemical engineers at North Carolina State Univ. (NCSU) have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can automatically run and improve chemical reactions. The platform, called Artificial Chemist, could help accelerate the research and development (R&D) and manufacturing of various materials.
“The goal here is to reimagine how materials are made,” says Milad Abolhasani, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at NCSU. “Typically, when you want to optimize specific properties to create a new material, you can randomly go through conditions and do experiments, but when the possible combination of experiments is too large, it can be useful to use AI. We demonstrated that Artificial Chemist outperforms conventional black box technology and acts much like a chemist who learns over time.”
The novel technology runs in two different modes — with or without prior knowledge. With no prior knowledge, it will run numerous experiments with different conditions to determine the right material.
Experiments are conducted in a robotic microreactor in conjunction with an AI “brain.” It learns extremely fast, using data it collects to inform subsequent experiments and produce the target material. Like a human chemist, it will run experiments to understand the reaction model for a specific material, and after 10–15 experiments, it has enough data to design the target material.
With prior knowledge, the Artificial Chemist can produce the material much quicker, with just 2–3 experiments or within 10–15 minutes, much like a scientist that already has experience with making a certain product.
“For every decision we...
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