Professor Andy Cooper receives Royal Society Professorship to develop mobile robotic chemist

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Professor Andrew Cooper from the University’s Department of Chemistry has been awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship to further develop the mobile robotic chemist to fast forward advances in materials science.

Royal Society Research Professorships provide long-term support for internationally recognised scientists of exceptional accomplishments, allowing them to focus on ambitious and original research of the highest quality.

This award will allow Professor Cooper to extend the intelligence of the first fully autonomous mobile robotic chemist that he created with his team in 2020.

Reported in the journal Nature, the robotic chemist uses AI to work uninterrupted for weeks at a time allowing it to analyse data and make decisions on what experiments to do next.

Professor Cooper’s RS Professorship, entitled `Putting a brain in the mobile robotic chemist’. will allow him to equip the robot chemist with the necessary artificial intelligence to explore the materials space.

Working autonomously and with human scientists, it will use a real-time web interface to crowd source scientific insight to find new materials for applications, like clean energy production and environmental remediation.

Professor Cooper said: “I am really excited to take on this challenging project – we’ve built a fantastic team of chemists, computer scientists, engineers and roboticists to take this idea to the next level.“

Professor Wiebe Van Der Hoek, EPVC for the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “This is an outstanding achievement for Professor Cooper that will allow him to fully focus on taking forward his exciting and visionary research that led to the creation of the first fully autonomous mobile robot chemist.”

Professor Cooper is Academic Director of the Materials Innovation Factory, an £81 million facility at the forefront of advanced materials research, design and development.

He is also Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Functional Materials Design, an interdisciplinary research centre at the University that brings together chemical knowledge with state-of-the-art computer science to develop a new approach to the design of functional materials at the atomic scale.