PhD research turns all-rounder invention

Now, the three were allowed to meet in person to start the new chapter of the PhotoFlexys technology. PhotoFlexys is a compact modular photoreactor system. When Martin Rößler, a former researcher at the Institute of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry, developed the innovative reactor under the supervision of Prof. Marcel Liauw, professor of Technical Chemistry at RWTH Aachen University, his goal was to create a synthesis platform that met all the necessary criteria for an efficient and reproducible photocatalysis. The final result, the PhotoFlexys system, can be described as an all-rounder in photocatalysis that supports its operator all the way from first batch attempts over an optimization screening to the application in continuous flow without having to change the entire setup. The flexibility goes even further. With various exchangeable irradiation units to choose from, PhotoFlexys is applicable to a broad range of photocatalytic protocols. Given its compatibility with standard hot plates, this wide field of application makes the photoreactor a perfect addition to standard lab equipment.

Industry collaboration on innovative RWTH IP

Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Zang shares this assessment. “The reason why PhotoFlexys is so good is because it was developed not only for, but also by users. This resulted in feature details that make it superior to other photochemistry solutions in many applications. Arbitrary illumination profiles up to unmatched high intensities and the possibility to perform both, batch- and conti-experiments under the same illumination conditions are only a few examples. Combining PhotoFlexys with our LabBox yields a Lab 4.0-ready system for photochemistry, granting reproducibility and stepwise extendable automation up to self-optimising processes”, explains the CEO of HiTec Zang, an R&D-driven supplier of laboratory reactor systems and automation. It is not the first time the company based in Herzogenrath just outside Aachen collaborates with RWTH Aachen University. One of their biotechnological systems is the successful outcome of a project together with the Chair of Biochemical Engineering. In late 2020, industry and research met again, this time to sign a license agreement for PhotoFlexys. HiTec Zang has started the production and marketing of the patent-pending technology and plans to present a complete platform for photo chemistry experiments around PhotoFlexys at ACHEMA 2022 in Frankfurt. This platform consists of easy-to-use hardware and software modules for automated and reproducible photochemistry experiments. Lead inventor Martin Rößler is also excited about the future of his technology:

“I’m very pleased to see that using the expertise in automation of Hitec Zang, the PhotoFlexys raised it’s level from a stand-alone device to a fully integrated solution for photochemistry. With this approach, the experimental effort of photochemical reaction is cut down to a minimum which in turn lowers costs in R&D. We envision that the PhotoFlexys reactor find its way into various research labs across universities and industry to make photochemistry broadly accessible.”

Martin Rößler

We are proud to have guided the mutual exchange from discussing opportunities for cooperation and use all the way to signing the license agreement. It was a pleasure to finally celebrate this important step with you.