Welcome to Steve Ley’s research group webpages. Our laboratories, the Whiffen and Innovative Technology Centre are in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. Here you’ll find out about our current research in flow chemistry and organic synthesis, as well as a look back at our historical achievements in natural product synthesis. We’re always keen to host academic and industry visitors and you are invited to get in touch.

What’s new? We have been awarded a grant as part of a larger European consortium. ONE-FLOW, a 4-year project with ca. 3.9 million Euro budget, launched in January 2017. The consortium involves 7 academic teams including us, the University of Lyon/CPE Lyon, University of Hull, Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology, Graz University of Technology, MicroInnova and the University of Bielefeld in Germany.


Stapled Peptides Early View in April ChemBioChem. Stapled peptides are a new class of chemical probe with potential therapeutic ability to modulate protein-protein interactions. In A novel methodology for the incorporation of chiral linkers in stapled peptides we report the first two-component “i,i+7″ staplinmethodology using two orthogonal, on-resin stapling reactions to incorporate linkers bearing a chiral center on a p53-derived stapled peptide.

March ASAP in React. Chem. Eng. Our Flow chemistry process for the synthesis of 2-substituted cyclobutanones, via [2 + 2] cycloaddition of keteneiminium salts and ethylene gas. This is a safe and reliable route using tube-in-tube technology, offering advantages of safety, reproducibility and potential scalability.

Moving more generally on to current research, we’ve recently described our pioneering use of web-based Augmented Reality (AR) technology that we developed from open-source components in Combination of enabling technologies to improve and describe the stereoselectivity of Wolff–Staudinger cascade reaction Synthesis201648, 3515.

Also in the Flow area: with the multistep synthesis of 5-methyl-4-propylthiophene-2-carboxylic acid as our example, we’ve devised a single reactor platform to conduct both batch and flow reactions, either singly or in concert, using open source technologies to automate, control and monitor individual processes. See Engineering Chemistry: integrating batch and flow reactions on a single, automated reactor platform in React. Chem. Eng., 20161, 629.

We’ve also developed a modular software system that enables researchers to monitor and control chemical reactions via the Internet, using any device from any location in the world. See A novel internet-based reaction monitoring, Control and autonomous self-optimization platform for chemical synthesis in Org. Process. Res. Dev. 201620, 386.

A few other bits and bobs:  our Knowledge Transfer activities and a virtual tour around our Flow Laboratory;  The Internet of Chemical Things – the IoCT which we define as the interconnection and networking of chemical machines, computing devices and all chemical services delivered through the infrastructure of the Internet is coming;  Organic Chemistry Science Gateway – enabling researchers to rationalise and predict organic reactions using computational analysis in silico.



“Complex synthesis remains a challenging occupation requiring an exceptional level of experimental skill, extensive knowledge of both mechanistic and molecular reactivity, and a bold, inventive, and creative spirit. It is the combination of these qualities that transforms the synthesis process from one of simple logistics to an art form.” Steve Ley.