Max Planck Research Group - Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis

Dr. Christophe Werlé - Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis


>> LinkedIn profil of Dr. Werlé

PhD Thesis Dr. Jean-Pierre Djukic, University of Strasbourg/Institute of Chemistry, France (2011-2014)
Post-Doc Prof. Dr. Alois Fürstner, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Germany (2014-2016)
Post-Doc Prof. Dr. Karsten Meyer, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany (2016-2017)
Group Leader 'Organometallic Electrocatalysis', MPI CEC (2017-2019)
Research Group Leader 'Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis', MPI CEC / Ruhr University Bochum (since 2019)

ORCID | ResearcherID | Google Scholar Profile

Selected MPI CEC publications

  • Chugh, V., Chatterjee, B., Chang, W.-C., Cramer, H. H., Hindemith, C., Randel, H., Weyhermüller, T., Fares, C.,  Werle, C. (2022). An Adaptive Rhodium Catalyst to Control the Hydrogenation Network of Nitroarenes. Angewandte Chemie, International Edition in English, (61): e202205515, pp. 1-10. doi:10.1002/anie.202205515.
  • Schlichter, P.; Werlé, C. The Rise of Manganese-Catalyzed Reduction Reactions. Synthesis 202154, 517-534 - [DOI: 10.1055/a-1657-2634].
  • Cramer, H. H.; Ye, S.; Neese, F.; Werlé, C.; Leitner, W. Cobalt-Catalyzed Hydrosilylation of Carbon Dioxide to the Formic Acid, Formaldehyde, and Methanol Level-How to Control the Catalytic Network? JACS Au 2021 (11) 2058-2069  [DOI: 10.1021/jacsau.1c00350].
  • Chatterjee, B.; Jena, S.; Chugh, V.; Weyhermüller, T.; Werlé, C. A Molecular Iron-Based System for Divergent Bond Activation: Controlling the Reactivity of Aldehydes. ACS Catal. 202111, 7176-7185 – [DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.1c00733]. 
  • Antico, E.; Schlichter, P.; Werlé, C.; Leitner, W. Reduction of Carboxylic Acids to Alcohols via Manganese(I) Catalyzed Hydrosilylation. JACS Au 2021, 1, 742-749 – [DOI: 10.1021/jacsau.1c00140].
  • Chatterjee, B.; Chang, W. C.; Werlé, C. Molecularly Controlled Catalysis - Targeting Synergies Between Local and Non-local Environments. ChemCatChem 2021, 13, 1659-1682 – [DOI: 10.1002/cctc.202001431].
  • Kinzel, N. W., Werlé, C., Leitner, W. (2021). Transition Metal Complexes as Catalysts for the Electroconversion of CO2: An Organometallic Perspective. Angewandte Chemie, International Edition in English, (60), 11268-11686.
  • Chatterjee, B.; Chang, W. C.; Jena, S.; Werlé, C. Implementation of Cooperative Designs in Polarized Transition Metal Systems-Significance for Bond Activation and Catalysis. ACS Catal. 2020, 10, 14024-14055 – [DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.0c03794].
  • Cramer, H. H.; Chatterjee, B.; Weyhermüller, T.; Werlé, C.; Leitner, W. Controlling the Product Platform of Carbon Dioxide Reduction: Adaptive Catalytic Hydrosilylation of CO2 Using a Molecular Cobalt(II) Triazine Complex. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 202059, 15674-15681 – [DOI: 10.1002/anie.202004463].


Group members

PhD students

Wei-Chieh Chang
Vishal Chugh
Lars Frenzen
Soumyashree Jena
Alexander Schmitz

Lab staff

Carsten Hindemith
Helena Randel

Synergistische metallorganische Katalyse

Since modern society mainly relies on fossil fuels to provide either energy or basic chemical resources, aiming for a sustainable energy or chemical industry system before the depletion of fossil resources is necessary. In this context, catalysis still represents the most powerful methodology yet available to reduce the energy intensity of industrial chemical processes as well as their environmental burden, while simultaneously fulfilling the economic constraints dictated by the market and industrial production.

However, the quest for chemically efficient syntheses of valuable compounds with the recovery and reuse of catalysts, lower waste production, and minimal physical separations is a significant challenge for homogenous catalysis. In order to succeed, it is necessary to develop catalysts with optimum selectivity, modularity, adaptability, efficiency, and sustainability. Because of the variety of transformations, they can achieve, catalytic systems involving transition metals can play this role. In this approach, the spotlight is on the transition-metal itself – the reactivity takes place at the metal center. The ligands are considered “spectators” that remain unchanged throughout the catalyst lifetime. The steric and electronic properties of the ligands, however, do affect the properties of the catalyst. Furthermore, since the number of transition metal/ligand combinations is limited, a paradigm shift is necessary to design and develop more tunable catalysts for challenging transformations.

The efficient and sustainable formation of C–C, C-N, C-O bonds, constitute an ongoing challenge in organic chemistry. Transition-metal catalysts have revolutionized the way such bonds are created. The popularity of these methods stems from the wide range of substrates and diversity of tolerated functional groups. Our group wants to push the boundaries further and develop greener alternatives in an atom economic way.

To succeed, we believe in the necessity of developing a knowledge-based systematic approach in the understanding and description of catalytic systems as a function of their local and nonlocal environment. By this mean, new reactions and processes essential to convert the current energy systems into scalable, sustainable systems can be developed.

Our methodology encompasses everything from fundamental organometallic chemistry to the use of green energy to activate elementary building-blocks opening new pathways in the reliable syntheses of affordable and environmentally friendly fuels and base chemicals through what we call Synergistic Redox Catalysis (Figure).

Specifically, we target the elaboration, design, and development of synergistic organometallic systems capable of using green energy as the promotor to form carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bonds between two synthetically challenging reaction partners, with an emphasis on late-stage C-H functionalization.

Our expertise resides in the synthesis of (multi-metallic) transition-metal complexes supported by novel ligand architectures and their characterization by both spectroscopy and computation.

We are particularly interested in the isolation and characterization of reactive intermediates present during catalysis. These transient species are the keys to understanding bond making and breaking reactions, allowing for further optimization of the catalytic cycles.

Open Positions

The group of Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis is always seeking new talented students. Exceptionally qualified applicants are welcome to get in touch with Dr. Werlé at any time. Such enquiries should include a curriculum vitae and a cover letter mentioning eligible fellowship funding agencies to whom you might apply to support your stay in the group. We are more than willing to assist you in the preparation of these applications. In addition, please have two letters of recommendation  sent to Dr. Werlé by academic mentors who have previously supervised your work.

Interested candidates for Ph.D. and postdoctoral positions are encouraged to visit our career website site to see current job openings.