The Cronin group is developing revolutionary techniques in chemical synthetics which will allow the 'evolution' of materials to fulfill a desired function. Using a combination of fundamental insights into the interconnected nature of synthetic reaction networks with the use of purpose designed reaction hardware, our aim is initially the understanding and control of the self-assembly processes and finally the designing of molecular nanoparticles with the desired functionality which will stimulate an impact in modern technologies. To achieve this, inorganic nano-sized molecules are being designed and built "to order" to conduct specific tasks at the nano-level. Our highest priority targets tasks involve energy applications (water splitting, storage devices, quantum computing, molecular electronics, catalysis and solar fuel devices).
Professor Cronin’s research in the area of synthetic biology started with studies in the area of artificial life and holds the first EPSRC ‘Synthetic Biology Grant’ and has subsequently leveraged over £4 M of funding against this and several biologically inspired Solar Fuels grants including: Plug and Play Photosynthesis for RUBISCO independent fuels and Biologically inspired oxygen-evolving light driven catalysts. At the heart of the Cronin groups research in synthetic biology research is the fusion of complex chemical systems with novel technologies e.g. 3D printing, micro-devices, and advanced optics to explore the transition between dead and living matter. The design of advanced fluidic manipulations, surfactant control, and embedded complex chemical reactions that can establish new life-like dynamics is a key goal. Recently the group has started to explore whole organism evolution in complex switching devices to engineer specific properties as well as writing evolvable ‘data-streams’ into synthetic genes.
•M. D. Symes, P. J. Kitson, J. Yan, C. J. Richmond, G. J. T. Cooper, R. W. Bowman, T. Vilbrandt, L. Cronin, 'Integrated 3D-printed reactionware for chemical synthesis and analysis', Nature Chemistry, 2012, 4, 349-354.
•P. Kitson, M. Rosnes, V. Sans, V. Dragone, L. Cronin, 'Configurable 3D-Printed millifluidic and microfluidic 'lab on a chip' reactionware devices', Lab on a chip, 2012, 12, 3267-71.
•G. J. Cooper, R. W. Bowman, E. P. Magennis, F. Fernandez-Trillo, C. Alexander, M. J. Padgett, L. Cronin, 'Directed Assembly of Inorganic Polyoxometalate-based Micrometer-Scale Tubular Architectures by Using Optical Control', Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2012, 51, 12754-12758.
•C. Ritchie, G. J. T. Cooper, Y.-F. Song, C. Streb, H. Yin, A. D. C. Parenty, D. A. MacLaren, and L. Cronin ‘Spontaneous Assembly and Real-Time Growth of Micron-Scale Tubular Structures from Polyoxometalate-Based Inorganic Solids’ Nature Chemistry, 2009, 1, 47-52.
•H. N. Miras, G. J. T. Cooper, D.-L. Long, H. Bögge, A. Müller, C. Streb and L. Cronin, ‘Unveiling the Transient Template in the Self Assembly of a Molecular Oxide Nano-Wheel’, Science, 2010, 327, 72-74.
•S. G. Mitchell, P. I. Molina, S. Khanra, H. N. Miras, A. Prescimone, G. J. T. Cooper, R. S. Winter, E. K. Brechin, D.-L. Long, R. J. Cogdell, L. Cronin, 'A mixed-valence manganese cubane trapped by inequivalent trilacunary polyoxometalate ligands', Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2011, 50, 9154-9157.