The Photoswitch Dataset: A Molecular Machine Learning Benchmark for the Advancement of Synthetic Chemistry

The space of synthesizable molecules is greater than $10^{60}$, meaning only a vanishingly small fraction of these molecules have ever been realized in the lab. In order to prioritize which regions of this space to explore next, synthetic chemists need access to accurate molecular property predictions. While great advances in molecular machine learning have been made, there is a dearth of benchmarks featuring properties that are useful for the synthetic chemist. Focussing directly on the needs of the synthetic chemist, we introduce the Photoswitch Dataset, a new benchmark for molecular machine learning where improvements in model performance can be immediately observed in the throughput of promising molecules synthesized in the lab. Photoswitches are a versatile class of molecule for medical and renewable energy applications where a molecule's efficacy is governed by its electronic transition wavelengths. We demonstrate superior performance in predicting these wavelengths compared to both time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT), the incumbent first principles quantum mechanical approach, as well as a panel of human experts. Our baseline models are currently being deployed in the lab as part of the decision process for candidate synthesis. It is our hope that this benchmark can drive real discoveries in photoswitch chemistry and that future benchmarks can be introduced to pivot learning algorithm development to benefit more expansive areas of synthetic chemistry.