(celisca 12/2023)
The development of new materials is of great importance for many areas of industry and research. As part of the research funded by the European Research Council, scientists from the Center for Life Science Automation at the University of Rostock (PI Prof. Dr. K. Thurow), the University of Liverpool (PI Prof. Dr. A. Cooper) and the University of Southampton (PI Prof. Dr. G. Day) work together on the development of innovative automated processes for the development of new materials. An important key point is the determination of the crystal structures of the developed substances. Crystallization is usually carried out manually and is a very time-consuming process, depending on the substances and solvents used. With the development of an automated system, this process can now be carried out fully automatically. The samples are fed to the robot-based system in solid form. The automation system handles the dissolution of the samples, the crystallization, the grinding of the crystals formed and the transfer of the final crystals to the measuring plates. A mobile robot takes over the delivery of the samples from a central warehouse and the transport of the final measuring plates to the measuring system.

(University Liverpool 01/2024)
Publication in Chemical Science


Modular, multi-robot integration of laboratories: an autonomous workflow for solid-state chemistry


Automation can transform productivity in research activities that use liquid handling, such as organic synthesis, but it has made less impact in materials laboratories, which require sample preparation steps and a range of solid-state characterization techniques. For example, powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) is a key method in materials and pharmaceutical chemistry, but its end-to-end automation is challenging because it involves solid powder handling and sample processing. Here we present a fully autonomous solid-state workflow for PXRD experiments that can match or even surpass manual data quality, encompassing crystal growth, sample preparation, and automated data capture. The workflow involves 12 steps performed by a team of three multipurpose robots, illustrating the power of flexible, modular automation to integrate complex, multitask laboratories.

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(University of Southhampton 01/2024)

Publication in Crystal Growth and Design


Exploring Polymorphism: Hydrochloride Salts of Pitolisant and Analogues


Pitolisant hydrochloride is used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness in adults with narcolepsy. The drug is formulated as a crystalline solid, and a monoclinic P21 form has been claimed in patents, but little additional information about the structure and polymorphism of the compound has been published. No new forms were obtained when we grew crystals from solution under various conditions. Re-examination of the crystals revealed a disordered and partially hydrated structure that resembles the one reported earlier but is not identical. Further insight was obtained by synthesizing analogues of pitolisant with its Cl substituent replaced by Me, F, and Br, followed by structural analysis of the hydrochloride salts by X-ray diffraction. Pitolisant hydrochloride and its three analogues showed very similar solid-state behavior, and each compound yielded new metastable forms when crystallized from melts. The lifetime of metastable form III of pitolisant hydrochloride could be extended significantly by adding small amounts of the fluoro analogue, but none of the metastable forms could be obtained as single crystals suitable for structural analysis. Computational predictions of the polymorphic landscapes of pitolisant hydrochloride and its analogues identified possible structures of the metastable forms. Dual experimental and computational approaches are already widely used in polymorphic screening, but our work shows the value of broadening these searches to include sets of structural analogues.


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(celisca 05/2023)
We are happy to welcome new employees.

Our Mobile Laboratory Robots - MOLAR - take over the transport of samples and labware in highly distributed laboratories in complex workflows. The mobile systems navigate safely in different laboratories on different floors. Any labware for a wide variety of applications in the fields of bioanalytics, analytical measurement technology, medical diagnostics or materials research can be transported up to a total weight of 20 kg. The transport trays allow safe, contamination-free transport of samples and labware and transfer and pick-up with the highest precision.