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  1. Microfluidic devices and systems have entered many areas of chemical engineering, and the rate of their adoption is only increasing. As we approach and adapt to the critical global challenges we face in the near future, it is important to consider the capabilities of flow chemistry and its applications in next-generation technologies for sustainability, energy production, and tailor-made specialty chemicals. We present the introduction of microfluidics into the fundamental unit operations of chemical engineering. We discuss the traits and advantages of microfluidic approaches to different reactive systems, both well-established and emerging, with a focus on the integration of modular microfluidic devices into high-efficiency experimental platforms for accelerated process optimization and intensified continuous manufacturing. Finally, we discuss the current state and new horizons in self-driven experimentation in flow chemistry for both intelligent exploration through the chemical universe and distributed manufacturing. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Volume 13 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 7, 2023
  2. A quaternary segmented flow regime for robust and flexible continuous biphasic chemical processes is introduced and characterized for stability and dynamic properties through over 1500 automatically conducted experiments. The flow format is then used for the continuous flow ligand exchange of cadmium selenide quantum dots under high intensity ultraviolet illumination for improved photoluminescence quantum yield.
  3. null (Ed.)
    Autonomous robotic experimentation strategies are rapidly rising in use because, without the need for user intervention, they can efficiently and precisely converge onto optimal intrinsic and extrinsic synthesis conditions for a wide range of emerging materials. However, as the material syntheses become more complex, the meta-decisions of artificial intelligence (AI)-guided decision-making algorithms used in autonomous platforms become more important. In this work, a surrogate model is developed using data from over 1000 in-house conducted syntheses of metal halide perovskite quantum dots in a self-driven modular microfluidic material synthesizer. The model is designed to represent the global failure rate, unfeasible regions of the synthesis space, synthesis ground truth, and sampling noise of a real robotic material synthesis system with multiple output parameters (peak emission, emission linewidth, and quantum yield). With this model, over 150 AI-guided decision-making strategies within a single-period horizon reinforcement learning framework are automatically explored across more than 600 000 simulated experiments – the equivalent of 7.5 years of continuous robotic operation and 400 L of reagents – to identify the most effective methods for accelerated materials development with multiple objectives. Specifically, the structure and meta-decisions of an ensemble neural network-based material development strategy are investigated, which offers a favorablemore »technique for intelligently and efficiently navigating a complex material synthesis space with multiple targets. The developed ensemble neural network-based decision-making algorithm enables more efficient material formulation optimization in a no prior information environment than well-established algorithms.« less
  4. The optimal synthesis of advanced nanomaterials with numerous reaction parameters, stages, and routes, poses one of the most complex challenges of modern colloidal science, and current strategies often fail to meet the demands of these combinatorially large systems. In response, an Artificial Chemist is presented: the integration of machine‐learning‐based experiment selection and high‐efficiency autonomous flow chemistry. With the self‐driving Artificial Chemist, made‐to‐measure inorganic perovskite quantum dots (QDs) in flow are autonomously synthesized, and their quantum yield and composition polydispersity at target bandgaps, spanning 1.9 to 2.9 eV, are simultaneously tuned. Utilizing the Artificial Chemist, eleven precision‐tailored QD synthesis compositions are obtained without any prior knowledge, within 30 h, using less than 210 mL of total starting QD solutions, and without user selection of experiments. Using the knowledge generated from these studies, the Artificial Chemist is pre‐trained to use a new batch of precursors and further accelerate the synthetic path discovery of QD compositions, by at least twofold. The knowledge‐transfer strategy further enhances the optoelectronic properties of the in‐flow synthesized QDs (within the same resources as the no‐prior‐knowledge experiments) and mitigates the issues of batch‐to‐batch precursor variability, resulting in QDs averaging within 1 meV from their target peak emission energy.
  5. Although a vital parameter in many colloidal nanomaterial syntheses, precursor mixing rates are typically inconsistent in batch processes and difficult to separate from reaction time in continuous flow systems. Here, we present a flow chemistry platform that decouples early-stage precursor mixing rates from reaction time (residence time) using solely off-the-shelf, commercially available, and standard dimension components. We then utilize the developed flow chemistry platform towards time- and material-efficient studies of the mass transfer-controlled synthesis of cesium lead bromide perovskite quantum dots.