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Computational discovery of porous molecular materials

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Christoph Schran.

We have been developing computational software towards assisting in the discovery of molecular materials with targeted structures and properties. Whilst initially we have focused upon porous molecular materials, we will also address the ways in which our approach is generalisable to other molecular materials and their applications, including as organic semiconductors or for photocatalysis. Intrinsically porous organic molecules have shown promise in separations, catalysis, encapsulation, sensing, and as porous liquids. These molecules are typically synthesised from organic precursors through dynamic covalent chemistry (DCC). If we consider cages synthesised from imine condensation reactions alone, there are approximately 800,000 possible aldehyde and amine precursors, combining these in all the different possible topologies results in over 830 million possible porous organic cages. Therefore, either from a computational or synthetic perspective, it is not possible for us to screen all these possible assemblies. Our evolutionary algorithm automates the assembly of hypothetical molecules from a library of precursors. The software belongs to the class of approaches inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution and the premise of “survival of the fittest”. Our approach has already suggested promising targets that have been synthetically realised. Further, we are addressing questions such as which topologies or DCC reactions maximise void size or whether specific chemical functionalities promote targeted applications. We have also examined the application of machine learning for the rapid prediction of whether porous organic molecules will be shape persistent, retaining an internal cavity, or not. Finally, we have trained a model (the Materials Precursor Score, MPScore) to guide our predictions to select materials that have a high chance of being synthesisable in the laboratory. More recently, we have also extended our software and approach to the field of coordination cages. Finally, I will discuss our work on the structure prediction of amorphous MOFs and porous organic polymer membranes for molecular separations and in energy storage devices.


“Explainable Graph Neural Networks for Organic Cages”, Q. Yuan, F. Szczypiński, K. E. Jelfs, Digital Discovery (2022), DOI : 10.1039/D1DD00039J

“Materials Precursor Score: Modelling Chemists’ Intuition for the Synthetic Accessibility of Porous Organic Cages”, S. Bennett, F. T. Szczypiński, L. Turcani, M. E. Briggs, R. L. Greenaway, K. E. Jelfs, J. Chem. Inf. Model. (2021), 61, 9, 4342–4356

“High-throughput Computational Evaluation of Low Symmetry Pd2L4 Cages to Aid in System Design”, A. Tarzia, J. Lewis, K. E. Jelfs, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2021), 60, 20879–20887

“Sterics and Hydrogen Bonding Control Stereochemistry and SelfSorting in BINOL -Based Assemblies”, Y.-Q. Zou, D. Zhang, T. K. Ronson, A. Tarzia, Z. Lu, K. E. Jelfs, J. R. Nitschke, J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2021), 143, 24, 9009-9015.

“Can we predict materials that can be synthesised?” (Review), F. T. Szczypiński, S. Bennett and K. E. Jelfs, Chem. Sci. (2021), 12, 830-840.

“N-Aryl–linked spirocyclic polymers for membrane separations of complex hydrocarbon mixtures”, K. A. Thompson, R. Mathias, D. Kim, J. Kim, N. Rangnekar, J. R. Johnson, S. J. Hoy, I. Bechis, A. Tarzia, K. E. Jelfs, B. A. McCool, A. G. Livingston, R. P. Lively, M. G. Finn, Science (2020), 369 (6501), 310-315.

“Computational Discovery of Molecular C60 Encapsulants with an Evolutionary Algorithm”, M. Miklitz, L. Turcani, R. L. Greenaway, K. E. Jelfs, Commun. Chem. (2020), 3 (10).

“Hydrophilic microporous membranes for selective ion separation and flow-battery energy storage”, R. Tan, A. Wang, R. Malpass-Evans, E. Wenbo Zhao, T. Liu, C. Ye, X. Zhou, B. Primera Darwich, Z. Fan, L. Turcani, E. Jackson, L. Chen, S. Y. Chong, T. Li, K. E. Jelfs, A. I. Cooper, N. P. Brandon, C. P. Grey, N. B. McKeown, Q. Song, Nature Materials (2020), 19, 195-202.

“From Concept to Crystals via Prediction: Multi-Component Organic Cage Pots by Social Self-Sorting”, R. L. Greenaway, V. Santolini, A. Pulido, M. A. Little, B. M. Alston, M. E. Briggs, G. M. Day, A. I. Cooper, K. E. Jelfs, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2019), 131 (45) 16421-16427.

“Machine Learning for Organic Cage Property Prediction”, L. Turcani, R. L. Greenaway, K. E. Jelfs, Chem. Mater. (2019) 31, 3, 714-727.

“An Evolutionary Algorithm for the Discovery of Porous Organic Cages”, E. Berardo, L. Turcani, M. Miklitz, K. E. Jelfs, Chem. Sci. (2018), 9, 8513.

This talk is part of the Lennard-Jones Centre series.

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