Flow chemistry involves the use of channels or tubing to conduct a reaction in a continuous stream. Compared to a standard round bottom flask, flow reactors have higher surface area to volume ratios. This translates in faster multiphasic reactions and increased temperature control. Moreover, improved mixing, and the ability to accurately control the reaction time (i.e. the residence time before an in-line quench), the possibility of heating beyond the solvent boiling point (by increasing the system pressure) or using gaseous reactants all contribute in making flow chemistry an enabling technology for novel chemistry.
Since most of the synthetic steps in a flow system can performed without any human intervention, continuous-flow systems can be easily automated. These automated reaction system can be coupled with inline analytics (and with an algorithm capable of properly understand the analytical results) resulting in a highly reproducible closed-loops systems capable of designing, performing and analyzing chemical reactions. Our group aims to develop automated flow platforms capable of autonomously taking decisions based on every experiment result, as soon as it is performed. In this way, that the exploration of chemical space is no more bounded by practical limitations on the number of reactions that a chemist can perform and analyze, but becomes an algorithmic search where the chemist is in charge of the parameter space as function of a specific research question.