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Flexible automation accelerates materials discovery

Automated experiments can accelerate research and development. ‘Flexible automation’ enables the cost- and time-effective design, construction and reconfiguration of automated experiments. Flexible automation is empowering researchers to deploy new science and technology faster than ever before.

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Fig. 1: Commoditization of safer, lower-cost, user-friendly robots.
Fig. 2: Flexible automation enables reconfigurable, fully automated materials science experiments.
Fig. 3: Examples of flexible automation in action in materials science.


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For sharing their experiences deploying flexible automation, we would like to acknowledge our colleagues E. Booker, N. Taherimakhsousi, M. Elliott, M. Rooney, K. Dettelbach, T. Haley, K. Ocean, T. Morrissey, C. Krzyszkowski, A. Proskurin, S. Steiner, L. Alde, H. Situ, V. Lai and T. Zepel. For encouraging us to adopt machine vision into our workflows and other guidance, we thank J. Platt. We thank Natural Resources Canada (EIP2-MAT-001) for their financial support. C.P.B. is grateful to the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (RGPIN-2018-06748), Canadian Foundation for Innovation (229288), Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (BSE-BERL-162173) and Canada Research Chairs for financial support. J.E.H. is supported by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI-35883) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RCPIN-2016-04613, CRDPJ 530118-18). B.P.M., F.G.L.P. and C.P.B. acknowledge support from the SBQMI’s Quantum Electronic Science and Technology Initiative, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, and the Quantum Materials and Future Technologies Program.

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Correspondence to Curtis P. Berlinguette.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Materials thanks Benji Maruyama and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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MacLeod, B.P., Parlane, F.G.L., Brown, A.K. et al. Flexible automation accelerates materials discovery. Nat. Mater. 21, 722–726 (2022).

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