It is recognised that a step change in our ability to make molecules is necessary if we are to meet the aims of the Grand Challenge. Though we have reached a stage where it is possible to make most molecules if given sufficient time and resource, synthesis remains as a perennial bottleneck in key disciplines such as healthcare, agrochemisty, molecular electronics and other emerging fields.
Two contrastive approaches to the problem of tackling the synthesis of any given molecule have emerged:
This focus area is based on a simple hypothesis that with sufficient ‘perfect’ and utterly reliable reactions, we would be able to build even the most complex molecules predictably in a stepwise fashion.
Drawing on past experience in recognising that the first synthesis of a complex target is seldom the best then poses the question ‘Why can’t we identify the best approach to a synthetic problem from the outset?’ The focus area Holistic Approach to Molecule Synthesis seeks the most direct way of moving from a starting material to the end product by regarding both as parts of a well-defined whole.
The societal and economic benefits that follow from addressing the main bottleneck holding back the development of next generation medicines, smart materials, pesticides, next generation electronics, sensors etc. are legion. In addition, an ability to make any molecule at will, inexpensively and on a meaningful timescale will unlock hitherto unimagined opportunities for future scientific advance.