Contact JohnProf John de MelloProfessor of Nanomaterials

Machines with statistical intuition



Chemists are starting to see their reactions as recipes that can be rewritten ‘in flow’, where intelligent algorithms work out the optimum reaction conditions. In the field of chemistry, step changes are happening: moving to flow environment, miniaturisation with microfluidics and the introduction of intelligent automation. John looks ahead at the possibilities that could emerge over next 20 years from “In flow” Chemistry, pointing out the potential for high performance material manufacturing, speciality chemicals and, perhaps one day, even the search for the origin of life.

 

I’M CURIOUS ABOUT… “HOW WE CAN CREATE HIGH PERFORMANCE MATERIALS QUICKLY AND MORE EFFECTIVELY.”Prof John de Mello

Bio 

Professor John de Mello focuses on the experimental and theoretical characterisation of nanoparticles and molecular semiconductors with particular emphasis on their use in optoelectronic devices. John is a Professor of nanomaterials in the Department of Chemistry, and was a co-recipient of the Royal society’s Brian Mercer Award for Innovation in nanotechnology. He currently holds a Royal society Industry Fellowship with Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, and is a cofounder of Molecular vision Ltd. which specialises in the use of organic LEDs and photodiodes for chemical sensing.

Research 

John is developing techniques to carry out multiple-step chemical reactions inside tiny droplets in a flowing stream – a process known as droplet chemistry. The method will make it easier to create high-quality, high-performance advanced materials for new plastic electronics such as flexible computer screens and affordable solar panels. His focus optoelectronic devices includes:

  • Organic Semiconductors
  • Synthesis of Quantum Dots
  • Light-Emitting Diodes
  • Solar Cells
  • Sensors

Prof John de Mello’s predictions from 2013

Horizon

Prediction

Tracking

within 5 years

Increasing use of flow chemistry, as industry starts to shift away from batch chemistry methods

2014 Researchers find reactions occur faster in micro-droplets, Phys Org

2014 Producing hyperpolarized xenon gas on a microfluidic chip, Phys Org

within 5 years

Intelligent automation and artificial intelligence used chemical synthesis

 

within 10 years

Change in mind-set: more chemists will be thinking synthesis pathways ‘in-flow’ first

 

within 10 years

Emergence of more computer and Artificially aided chemistry

 

within 10 years

Massive parallel racks of flow reactors with industrial scale output

 

within 20 years

Flow reactors used to search for the origins of life

 

Foresight and futures work

2033: Tech Foresight
20 years




Profile Credits

Foresight Development: Alex Ayad, Chris Haley, Ali Salehi-Reyani, Smarties 

Video: Alex Ayad, Eleanor Harding, Tom Walker, Consider Creative