Dr. Nicolas Kaeffer - Metallorganische Elektrokatalyse

Dr. Nicolas Kaeffer
Leiter der Gruppe Metallorganische Elektrokatalyse
Abteilung Molekulare Katalyse


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)


Full publications list | ORCID | ResearcherID

Selected MPI CEC publications




PhD Studenten

  • Niklas Kinzel


  • Petra Höfer
  • Phillip Reck

Forschung in der Gruppe Metallorganische Elektrokatalyse

Renewable resources offer new and unique opportunities to develop more sustainable synthetic routes to large-scale chemicals, as fuels and base compounds. Most of the starting building blocks are indeed derived from fossil resources and further transformed to desired chemicals via organometallic catalytic systems. Producing large-scale chemicals starting with building blocks obtained from sustainable resources and not anymore from fossil resources is thus a major step ahead.

To that goal, electrosynthetic routes take advantage of renewable electricity generating electronic driving force (e) 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 paradigm implies to redesign from catalytic systems to production processes. But inspiration can be found in established synthetic routes relying on organometallic catalysis to develop counterpart electrosynthetic routes via the advent of 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 that goal, we rely on extensive electrochemical/-catalytic studies, spectroscopic methods including in situ/operando spectroscopies (spectro-electrochemistry) and computational techniques.

A key question we aim at answering is how molecular mechanisms overlap – or diverge – between chemical and electrochemical organometallic catalysis. This endeavor finds fertile complementarity 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 as a whole 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.