Running a chemical reaction can require a great deal of supervision. Temperature set points must be closely controlled, ice added to ice baths, and reagents must be added. But this is time consuming and ideally a reaction should be supervised by someone, or even something, else. Imagine a situation where the organic chemist does not have to worry if the temperature is correct, reagents are added, exotherms are controlled, and no reaction event is missed.
Looking at the example, a multi-step addition of the reactant was required over a long period of time. While this is not always a difficult task on its own, it requires constant attention and supervision. Using traditional methods, an organic chemist would have performed this reaction by spending two hours supervising the temperature of the reaction (adding ice to maintain the temperature), and also needed to constantly monitor the addition of the reactants by adjusting the dropping funnel.
However, it is now possible to set the temperature (as discussed above), and also to set the reagent addition. The synthesis workstation keeps the temperature stable, and the reagents are added according to the recipe (Figure 2). Now, the organic chemist can walk away and concentrate on something else, like designing a new reaction sequence.
Requiring less supervision provides an additional benefit. Many chemical reactions require some kind of hold time. In this example, the chemical reaction is heated after dosing is complete, and then held for a period of two hours. Previously, this may have required supervision at the end of the day. The reaction may not have ever been completed if some action was required overnight, Now, the reaction can be left to complete on its own, and the synthesis workstation can supervise and even control events such as temperature changes and additions. The organic chemist can move onto other things.
The whitepaper – New Methodologies for Organic Synthesis: Chemical Synthesis Beyond the Round Bottom Flask – introduces the concept of chemical synthesis without the traditional round bottom flask, and outlines a new methodology that is changing the way chemical synthesis are done.