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.
Thursday 24 August Steve is awarded the 2018 Arthur C. Cope Award. The prize is awarded for achievement in the field of organic chemistry research, and is one of the highest honours in the field and this is the first time the prize has been given to someone working in the UK. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of organic chemistry within the five years preceding the award. The prize is sponsored by the Arthur C. Cope Fund and has been awarded since 1973 by the American Chemical Society. Arthur C. Cope, an influential organic chemist, is credited with the development of several important chemical reactions which bear his name, including the Cope elimination and the Cope rearrangement.
Just Accepted Papers Chemoselective continuous Ru-catalyzed hydrogen-transfer Oppenauer-type oxidation of secondary alcohols describes a continuous flow method for the selective oxidation of secondary alcohols using a method based on an Oppenauer-type ruthenium-catalyzed hydrogen-transfer process that uses acetone as both solvent and oxidant. We have also just published our methods for the rapid continuous ruthenium-catalysed transfer hydrogenation of aromatic nitriles to primary amines. We reported in Org. Process Res. Dev. the multistep continuous process for the preparation of dibromoformaldoxime as a precursor to generate bromoisoxazolines.
New Review Synthesis is changing in response to our modern resource conscious world. The principles of green chemistry are evolving as the interfaces and boundaries in science are less obvious and providing a new stimuli for future discovery. The invention and application of new chemical reactivity continues to be a primary driver since this opens up so many strategic opportunities for synthesis. The engineering chemistry described in our publication collates recent progress and innovation in the area.
New Path Molecular a new company originating from our labs, now based on the Babraham Research Campus, specialises in the chemical synthesis of complex functional molecules using cutting edge techniques, methods and instrumentation. Their outputs are being used to validate biological processes and produce products globally in pharma, agrochem and animal health.
EC 2020 Horizon Steve Ley has been awarded a grant as part of a larger 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.
Augmented Reality Moving more generally on to current research, we’ve published 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 Synthesis, 2016, 48, 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., 2016, 1, 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. 2016, 20, 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.
- Taming Hazardous Chemistry by Continuous Flow Technology (2016)
- Enabling Technologies for the Future of Chemical Synthesis (2016)
- Machine-Assisted Organic Synthesis (2015)
- Flow Chemistry: Intelligent Processing of Gas-Liquid Transformations Using a Tube-in-Tube Reactor (2015)
- Organic Synthesis: March of the Machines (2015)
- Chemistry in a Changing World (2015)
- Flow Chemistry Meets Advanced Functional Materials (2014)
- Camera Enabled Techniques for Organic Synthesis (2013)
- Flow Chemistry Syntheses of Natural Products (2013)
“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.