07-Feb-2019 - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Intuition and failure as valuable ingredients in chemical research

Methodology to collect lessons learned from partially failed trials and incorrect hypotheses

Researchers from the lab of NCCR MARVEL's deputy director Berend Smit and colleagues have developed a methodology for collecting the lessons learned from partially failed trials and incorrect hypotheses -- the experiments that didn't work.

The researchers used machine learning to capture chemical intuition -- which they defined as the collection of unwritten guidelines chemists use to find the right synthesis conditions -- from a set of (partially) failed attempts to synthesize a metal-organic framework.

Since these experiments are usually unreported, they reconstructed a typical track of failed experiments in the successful search for the optimal synthesis conditions for yielding a certain MOF with the highest surface area reported to date. They go on to show how important quantifying this chemical intuition is in the synthesis of novel materials.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • News

    Photoelectrochemical water-splitting efficiency hits 4.5%

    Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting for hydrogen fuel generation has been considered the Holy Grail of electrochemistry. But to achieve it, many scientists believe the materials have to be abundant and low cost. The most promising oxide photocathodes are cuprous oxide (Cu2O) photoele ... more

    Visualizing chemical reactions

    Researchers at the joint EPFL-Empa lab in Sion have developed a reactor system and an analysis method that has allowed them to observe the real-time production of synthetic natural gas from CO2 and H2 for the first time. Infrared (IR) thermography is used to determine the temperature of hu ... more

    A cheaper way to scale up atomic layer deposition

    Atomic layer deposition (ALD) involves stacking layers of atoms on top of each other like pancakes. The atoms come from a vaporized material called a precursor. ALD is a well-established technique for manufacturing microelectronics like semiconductors and magnetic heads for sound recording, ... more

  • Videos

    Water generates electricity (with a pinch of salt!)

    EPFL researchers have developed a system that generates electricity from osmosis with unparalleled efficiency. Their work, featured in "Nature", uses seawater, fresh water, and a new type of membrane just three atoms thick. more

    Stretchable electronics that quadruple in length

    EPFL researchers have developed conductive tracks that can be bent and stretched up to four times their original length. They could be used in artificial skin, connected clothing and on-body sensors. more