Max Planck Research Group - Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis

Dr. Christophe Werlé - Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis

Dr. Christophe Werlé
Head of Group Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis


Research Group Leader
MPI CEC (since 2019)
Group leader
MPI CEC 'Organometallic Electrocatalysis' – Prof. Dr. Walter Leitner (2017-2019)
Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg – Prof. Dr. Karsten Meyer (2016-2017)
Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung – Prof. Dr. Alois Fürstner (2014-2016)
University of Strasbourg – Dr. Jean-Pierre Djukic (2011-2014)


Full publications list | ORCID | ResearcherID | Google Scholar Profile

Selected MPI CEC publications

  • Cramer, H.H., Chatterjee, B., Weyhermüller, T., Werlé, C., Leitner, W. (2020). Controlling the Product Platform of Carbon Dioxide Reduction: Adaptive Catalytic Hydrosilylation of CO2 Using a Molecular Cobalt(II) Triazine Complex Angewandte Chemie International Edition
  • Erken, C., Hindemith, C., Weyhermüller, T., Hölscher, M., Werlé, C., Leitner, W. (2020). Hydroamination of Aromatic Alkynes to Imines Catalyzed by Pd(II)–Anthraphos Complexes ACS Omega 5(15), 8912-8918.
  • Martínez-Ferraté, O., Chatterjee, B., Werlé, C., Leitner, W. (2019). Hydrosilylation of carbonyl and carboxyl groups catalysed by Mn(I) complexes bearing triazole ligands Catalysis Science & Technology 9(22), 6370-6379.
  • Chang, H.-C., Lin, Y.-H., Werlé, C., Neese, F., Lee, W.-Z., Bill, E., Ye, S. (2019). Conversion of a Fleeting Open‐Shell Iron‐Nitride to an Iron‐Nitrosyl Angewandte Chemie International Edition 58(49), 17589-17593.
  • Rohner, S.S., Kinzel, N., Werlé, C., Leitner, W. (2019). Systematic ligand variation to modulate the electrochemical properties of iron and manganese complexes Dalton Transactions 48, 13205-13211.
  • Werlé, C., Karmazin, L., Bailly, C., Djukic, J.-P. (2019). Effect of Enhanced Electron Withdrawal on the Cohesion of Cr‐Pd Hemichelates European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry 2019(28), 3301-3308.
  • Werlé, C., Meyer, K. (2019).  Organometallic Electrochemistry: Redox Catalysis Going the Smart Way Organometallics 38(6), 1181-1185. 
  • Erken, C., Kaithal, A., Sen, S., Weyhermüller, T., Hölscher, M., Werlé, C., Leitner, W. (2018). Manganese-catalyzed hydroboration of carbon dioxide and other challenging carbonyl groups Nature Communications 9, 4521.
  • Martínez-Ferraté, O., Werlé, C., Franciò, G., Leitner, W. (2018). Aminotriazole Mn(I) Complexes as Effective Catalysts for Transfer Hydrogenation of Ketones ChemCatChem 23, 4514-4518.



Group members

PhD students

  • Wei-Chieh Chang
  • Soumyashree Jena

Lab staff

  • Carsten Hindemith

Synergistic Organometallic Catalysis

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.