Intuition-Enabled Machine Learning Beats the Competition When Joint Human-Robot Teams Perform Inorganic Chemical Experiments

13 February 2019, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Traditionally, chemists have relied on years of training and accumulated experience in order to discover new molecules. But the space of possible molecules so vast, only a limited exploration with the traditional methods can be ever possible. This means that many opportunities for the discovery of interesting phenomena have been missed, and in addition, the inherent variability of these phenomena can make them difficult to control and understand. The current state-of-the-art is moving towards the development of automated and eventually fully autonomous systems coupled with in-line analytics and decision-making algorithms. Yet even these, despite the substantial progress achieved recently, still cannot easily tackle large combinatorial spaces as they are limited by the lack of high-quality data. Herein, we explore the utility of active learning methods for exploring the chemical space by comparing collaboration between human experimenters with an algorithm-based search, against their performance individually to probe the self-assembly and crystallization of the polyoxometalate cluster Na6[Mo120Ce6O366H12(H2O)78]·200H2O (1). We show that the robot-human teams are able to increase the prediction accuracy to 75.6±1.8%, from 71.8±0.3% with the algorithm alone and 66.3±1.8% from only the human experimenters demonstrating that human-robot teams beat robots or humans working alone.


machine learning
inorganic chemistry
artificial intelligence


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.