Dr. Nicolas Kaeffer - Organometallic Electrocatalysis


Engineer diploma Chimie ParisTech, France (2009-2012)
M.Sc. Paris Centre, France (2011-2012)
Ph.D. Université Grenoble Alpes/LCBM (Dr. V. Artero), France (2012-2016)
Postdoc ETH Zürich (Prof. Dr. C. Copéret), Switzerland (2016-2020)
Gruppenleiter 'Metallorganische Elektrokatalyse', MPI CEC (seit 2020)
Scholarships and Awards

2022 Junior Researcher Prize of the Energy transversal division, French Chemical Society (SCF)
2017 Career Seed Grant, ETH Zürich
2017 ETH Zürich Postdoctoral Fellowship / Marie Curie Actions for People COFUND Programs, ETH Zürich
2017 PhD Prize, Université Grenoble Alpes


Functions & Tasks

Full publications list | ORCID | ResearcherID

Selected MPI CEC publications

  • Durin, G., Lee, M., Pogany, M. A., Weyhermüller, T., Kaeffer, N., Leitner, W. (2023). Hydride-Free Hydrogenation: Unraveling the Mechanism of Electrocatalytic Alkyne Semihydrogenation by Nickel-Bipyridine Complexes. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 145(31), 17103-17111. doi:10.1021/jacs.3c03340.
  • Han, C. H., Zenner, J., Johny, J., Kaeffer, N., Bordet, A., Leitner, W. (2022) Electrocatalytic hydrogenation of alkenes with Pd/carbon nanotubes at an oil-water interface Nature Catalysis 5 (12), 1110-1119. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-022-00882-4 
  • Kaeffer, N. Leitner, W. (2022). Electrocatalysis with Molecular Transition-Metal Complexes for Reductive Organic Synthesis. JACS Au 2 (6), 1266-1289. doi:10.1021/jacsau.2c00031
  • Lee, M.-Y., Kahl, C., Kaeffer, N., Leitner, W. (2022). Electrocatalytic Semihydrogenation of Alkynes with [Ni(bpy)3]2+. JACS Au 2 (3), 573-578. doi:10.1021/jacsau.1c00574
  • Kinzel, N. W., Demirbas, D., Bill, E., Weyhermüller, T., Werlé, C., Kaeffer, N., Leitner, W. (2021). Systematic Variation of 3d Metal Centers in a Redox-Innocent Ligand Environment: Structures, Electrochemical Properties, and Carbon Dioxide Activation. Inorganic Chemistry 60 (24), 19062-19078. doi:10.1021/acs.inorgchem.1c02909
Group members


Dr. Gabriel Durin
Dr. Mijung Lee

PhD students

Florian Dobreff
Zeynep Kap Dinler

Lab staff

Petra Höfer
Christian Kahl
Phillip Reck

Research in the Group Organometallic Electrocatalysis

Renewable resources offer new and unique opportunities to develop more sustainable synthetic routes to energy carriers, fuels and chemicals. Today, most of the building blocks for fuels and chemicals are derived from depleting fossil resources, eventually leading to net carbon emissions. Starting with building blocks obtained from sustainable resources in connection with fossil-free energy sources is thus a major step towards a closed anthropogenic carbon cycle.

To that goal, electrosynthetic routes take advantage of renewable electricity providing electrons (e) as driving force to combine abundant substrates like protons (H+) of water or carbon dioxide (CO2) into base chemicals (ClHmOn) or for the upgrading of fine chemicals (S). Such shift in the synthetic approach implies to design original systems to catalyze these reactions and bring them to applicable processes. But inspiration can be found in established synthetic routes, often relying on organometallic catalysis, to develop the counterpart electrosynthetic routes via the advent of an efficient organometallic electrocatalysis.

In the OMeCat group, we investigate molecularly-defined organometallic systems for the sustainable electrocatalytic synthesis of chemicals and fuels. Our main focus addresses the development of molecular organometallic electrocatalysts for the electrosynthetic conversion of CO2, H+ and chemical buildings blocks.


We target:

  • The electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to fuels or base chemicals, but also as a building block to increase molecular complexity;
  • The electrocatalytic synthesis of base and fine chemicals, with a special emphasis on reductive (half-)reactions.

From understanding...

In our approach, we shape the molecular design of organometallic complexes towards the desired electrocatalytic activity. To improve our organometallic electrocatalysts, we put the electrocatalytic activity in perspective with a molecular-level understanding of the mechanisms. In our research, we rely on organometallic synthesis, electrochemical/-catalytic studies, spectroscopic methods including in situ/operando spectroscopies (spectro-electrochemistry) and computational techniques.

A key question to be addressed in our work is how molecular mechanisms overlap – or diverge – between chemical and electrochemical organometallic catalysis. This endeavor finds fertile synergies with the organometallic catalysis developed in the Molecular Catalysis department and benefits from a rich scientific environment at the institute in fields as electrocatalysis or advanced spectroscopies.

... to applications

While a fundamental understanding of the catalysis is essential, these electrosynthetic routes should be considered on a system level in the framework of application. To ensure overall sustainability, we work on balancing the reductive half-reactions of interest with sustainable counter-reactions. We also investigate the integration of molecularly-defined catalysts into devices so as to issue feasible electrosynthetic processes. In that approach, the group has strong synergies with research in process engineering and supported catalysis developed at the department and institute.


Open positions

The OMeCat team is always looking for highly motivated and talented co-workers (Master or PhD students, Post-Doctoral researchers) interested in our approach and who want to take part in vibrant research within a friendly and emulating environment. If you wish to join the team, please contact Dr. Nicolas Kaeffer with your application documents.

Interested candidates can also visit our career website to check for current job openings.


Dr. Gregor Kemper
Dr. Shweta Kalra
Dr. Philipp Dierks Profil auf LinkedIn
Dr. Ajeet Singh Profil auf LinkedIn 
Dr. Niklas Kinzel Profil auf LinkedIn
Dr. Mi-Young Lee Profil auf LinkedIn
Martina Pogany
Yu-Chun Shen
Lukas Föbinger