DigitalGlassware™: An early-warning system for your lab

A failed reaction isn’t just frustrating, it’s costly: wasting energy, chemicals and time. So if a reaction isn’t going the way it should, you need to know as soon as possible — not after days of fruitless boiling and stirring. Our previous posts have shown how the DigitalGlassware™ platform from deepmatter™ works with successful reactions, and can provide insights to improve yields, but it is equally valuable when things go wrong. Because the unique sensor array is always watching, it can alert you to a problem immediately.

Krishnan is a process chemist in Bengaluru. He has used the RecipeBuilder software to digitise an in-house bromination reaction — recording it in a standardised, step-by-step format that can be shared instantly anywhere in the company, rather than an old lab notebook. He then follows this digital recipe several times using the RecipeRunner app on his tablet.

RecipeRunner tablet app allows users to follow their DigitalGlassware™ Recipes and monitor sensors in real time.

Each reaction is continuously monitored by DigitalGlassware™’s sensors, DeviceX and EnvironmentalSensor, generating real-time data at every stage. Four of Krishnan’s reaction runs proceed smoothly, giving consistent yields ranging between 74% and 83%.

On the fifth run, however, the RecipeRunner app soon alerts him to a problem: the temperature of the reaction solution is much lower than it should be. This is puzzling — Krishnan can see that the reaction solution appears to be boiling normally, so how can the temperature be too low?

The alert functionality of the RecipeRunner tablet app notifies you when one of your sensors has gone astray

DeviceX immersed temperature sensor data for a successful (blue) and unsuccessful (orange) reaction with the RecipeRunner minimum threshold with time indicated.

A quick check of the temperature reveals that the sensors are correct and the temperature is indeed too low. Krishnan traces the problem to a mislabelled bottle of solvent: instead of carbon tetrachloride (boiling point 77°C), the reaction is being run in dichloromethane (boiling point 40°C). Visually, everything looked as it should, so without the automatic temperature warning, Krishnan could have wasted 24 hours on a totally failed reaction. What’s more, he would have had no indication of why it had failed. With DigitalGlassware™, not only was he alerted instantly, he was also able to identify the problem, and take action to prevent it from happening again.

Find out more about DigitalGlassware™ by registering here and explore the RunManager software here. Remember to check back for regular blog updates that will show how DigitalGlassware™ can work in your lab.

Note: all captured reaction data is real as presented. User identities have been anonymised.