Prof. Lee Cronin

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Research Summary

Lee Cronin is the Regius Professor of Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow. The focus of Cronin’s work is understanding and controlling self-assembly and self-organisation in Chemistry to develop functional molecular and nano-molecular chemical systems; linking architectural design with function and recently engineering system-level functions (e.g. coupled catalytic self-assembly, emergence of inorganic materials and fabrication of inorganic cells that allow complex cooperative behaviours). Much of this work is converging on exploring the assembly and engineering of emergent chemical systems. One target is the development of ‘inorganic biology’ i.e. a biological system beyond the naturally occurring ‘organic biology’ found on planet earth. Not only does this have ramifications for the origin of life on earth, elsewhere in the universe, the realisation of a living system assembled from the bottom up would also lead to a range of new technologies. To achieve his aims, Cronin and his group regularly collaborate with Physical, Theoretical, Organic, Materials, and Biological Chemists as well as Scientists in Chemical and Electrical Engineering, Physics and Medicine. It is also worth pointing out that the expertise in the Cronin group is unique bringing together chemists, chemical engineers, reaction modelling, complex system modelling, evolutionary theory, synthetic biology, robotics and AI.

Cronin is also developing several new ‘reaction-formats’ for chemical reactions as well as applications in catalysis, energy, and coatings. These include flow reactors for evolvable chemistry, 3D-printing ‘wetfab’ for the democratisation of chemistry e.g. synthesis of drugs important for the developing world (e.g. anti-malaria) as well as counterfeit drug sensors. Within Glasgow Solar Fuels, Cronin and colleagues are investigating a solar fuel cell that effectively produces a liquid fuel suitable for transport use. In 2009 he was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and between 2006 and 2011 he was an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow. Cronin has published over 290 papers that have amassed >10,000 citations in the world’s leading scientific journals and has given over 200 invited talks. He has over 120 national and international collaborators and has active research exchanges with Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Arizona State, Emory, Hokkaido University, Tokyo University, University of Aachen, North East Normal University, and Northwestern. LC has recent / active industrial collaborations with BP (catalyst discovery, acidic materials, understanding present catalysts), Samsung (nano- materials discovery), FujiFilm (new pigments), QinetiQ (Inorganic Energy), Oxford Diffraction (Ultra Large Molecules by Crystallography), Unilever (Inorganic additives for personal care products).