Electrolab: The robot that’s making electrochemistry electro-fast

What is the Electrolab?
The Electrolab is a low-cost, open-source robot that can perform complex electrochemical experiments autonomously. It was developed by researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

How does the Electrolab work?
The Electrolab has two main components: hardware and software. The hardware consists of a standard 3D printer frame, microfabricated electrode arrays, or eChips, and electrochemical hardware. The frame allows the robot to move around within a designated area above electrochemical cells to dispense different liquids. The eChips measure electrical current which is necessary for understanding the electrochemical measurements.

The software component was created in Python (a free, open-source coding platform) that allows the user to connect with Electrolab to perform experiments. The software allows for fully automated data analysis, visual graphics, and plotting. When paired with machine learning, the Electrolab transforms from a robot completing predetermined tasks to a robot that can make decisions about the direction of the experiment while it is happening. Typically, an electrochemist handpicks datasets of interest to move forward, but the Electrolab uses the data it is collecting and analyzing in real time to make the next move. In other words, the Electrolab is making this science electro-fast.

What are the benefits of using the Electrolab?
The Electrolab offers several benefits over traditional methods of electrochemical research:

  • Speed: The Electrolab can automate many of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks that electrochemists typically perform manually. This frees up researchers to focus on more creative and strategic work.
  • Accuracy: The Electrolab is able to perform experiments with greater accuracy and reproducibility than traditional methods.
  • Accessibility: The Electrolab is low-cost and open-source, making it accessible to researchers of all levels of experience.

The Electrolab is also helping to make electrochemistry more accessible to researchers of all levels of experience. Its open-source design and user-friendly software make it easy for anyone to get started with electrochemical research.

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