Organometallic Chemistry

This research line focuses on the study of Organometallic Chemistry, either on its fundamental or its applied sides. According to a classic definition, Organometallic Chemistry studies the synthesis, the structure and the reactivity of molecular compounds of metallic elements that contain at least one direct metal-carbon bond. The term “metal”usually assumes the broadest meaning, embracing not only the classic metallic elements (alkaline, alkaline-earth and d and f transition elements), but also main group “metalloids”, that is, most elements of the Periodic table with the exception of the lighter members of groups 14 –16, halogens and noble gases. Therefore, this discipline comprises a very broad field, embracing a large part of Molecular Inorganic Chemistry. At the IIQ, we concentrate on studies involving elements from the d transition series, but in recent years important contributions have been made to organo-main group chemistry as well.

The main subject of Organometallic Chemistry is the study of the interaction of organic molecules or molecular fragments with metallic elements. Such interactions cause a deep alteration of the structure and chemical properties of the former, modifying their chemical reactivity, and promoting transformations that, on a general basis, would not take place in the absence of the metal. Very often these transformations can happen in catalytic fashion. Therefore, it is natural that the main applications of Organometallic Chemistry would develop in the field of Catalysis. Due to their molecular nature and their solubility in liquid solvents, organometallic catalysts are usually regarded as archetypical examples of homogeneous catalysts. However, in the present moment the frontiers between the different kinds of Catalysis are being overcome by progresses in the field, becoming increasingly blurred. For example, immobilization of organometallic catalysts on solid surfaces provides a new class of catalysts displaying many of the advantages of the homogeneous but that are stricto sensu a kind of heterogeneous catalysts. For this reason we decided not to include the descriptor “homogeneous”in the line denomination, in spite of being a classic identity sign of this research lines.

Besides its applications in Catalysis, Organometallic Chemistry finds many other important ones.  Organometallic molecules can display biological activity and find use as therapeutic drugs, e. g. as antitumoral agents. Some of our researchers devote their interest to this aspect of the so-called Bioorganometallic Chemistry.

Objectives

The main goal of the work developed in this area is the production of high quality research in the area of Organometallic Chemistry, aimed to contribute to the international visibility of both our Institute (IIQ) and our Institutions (CSIC and University of Seville). A distinctive sign of the Organometallic line of the IIQ is its focus on the generation of fundamental research. The approach comprises from bond nature and structural aspects in organometallic compounds to reactivity of these complexes both in stoichiometric and catalytic processes, and ranges a wide variety of ligands and metals. Overall, the background accomplished confers members of the line a considerable versatility in the development of research. As a primary goal, these characteristic features (knowledge based research and versatility) are intended to be retained in the next period.

On the other hand, extension of the research towards applicable findings is also highly present. Thus, a substantial effort to the development of useful catalysts has also been made and constitutes an important part in the mission of this line. At this respect, these efforts will be maintained in the future and, moreover, an attempt to diversify the range of applications of our research will also be pursued. This challenge will include the development of novel synthetically useful homogeneous catalysts (including chiral ones), the heterogeneization of organometallic complexes towards the development of supported catalysts and the discovery of compounds with therapeutical uses.

Derived from our general objective, and intimately ligated to it, the members of the line are strongly committed to transmit the excellence in research to education. It is worth to mention that the areas of Organometallic Chemistry and Homogeneous Catalysis are directly related to activity of European Chemical Industry, therefore eduction of graduate students in these disciplines is of high interest. Therefore, the supervision of PhD theses and the formation of foreign students in our laboratories will also be important aims for the line. Finally, education will not be restricted at the highest level, as teaching at the undergraduate level will also be kept in the future.