Small Molecules Activation (Team N)



The “Small Molecules Activation” team brings together 3 researchers and 1 assistant-professor around themes mainly centered on the coordination and organometallic chemistry of a wide range of transition metals.

We apply it to the activation and valorization of small molecules (H2, CO2, N2, CH4, N2O, etc.), sometimes in combination with main-group chemistry: boron, silicon or fluorine also take their place in the portfolio of elements whose reactivity we study.

The team is committed to pushing its discoveries towards technologies related to health, materials, energy and fine chemicals.

Members of the team


Research topics

Dinitrogen Activation

C–F Bond Activation

CO2 Valorization

Hydrogen : catalysis for storage and fine chemicals


Ligand design

Molecular Magnetism

Team news

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Syntheses of N2-bridged heterobimetallic complexes, their structural and qualitative bonding analyses
Le Dé Q., Orbay F., Vendier L., Simonneau A.
Journal of Organometallic Chemistry 2023, 986, 122604/1-7.


Catalytic addition reactions of amines, thiols, and diphenyl-phosphine oxides to heterocumulenes using a bridging Sulfonylimido titanium(IV) complex
Banerjee I., Sagar S., Lorber C., Panda T. K.
Zeitschrift fur Anorganische und Allgemeine Chemie 2022, 648(18), e202200188/1-6.

Dinitrogen-derived (diarylboryl)diazenido complexes with differing coordination to the thallium cation
Bouammali A., Coffinet A., Vendier L., Simonneau A.
Dalton Transactions 2022, 51(28), 10697-10701.

Metathesis by partner interchange in σ-bond ligands: Expanding applications of the σ-CAM mechanism
Perutz R. N., Sabo-Etienne S., Weller A. S.
Angewandte Chemie, International Edition 2022, 61(5), e202111462/1-22.

A masked form of an O-borylated Breslow intermediate for the diastereoselective FLP-type activation of aldehydes
Mejia Fajardo A., Queyriaux N., Camy A., Vendier L., Grellier M., del Rosal I., Maron L., Bontemps S.
Chemistry – A European Journal 2022, 28(10), e202104122/1-5.


Selective reductive dimerization of CO2 into glycolaldehyde
Zhang D., Jarava-Barrera C., Bontemps S.
ACS Catalysis 2021, 11(8), 4568-4575.

Cooperative B–H and Si–H Bond Activations by κ2N,S-Chelated Ruthenium Borate Complexes
Zafar M., Ramalakshmi R., Ahmad A., Antharjanam P. K. S., Bontemps S., Sabo-Etienne S., Ghosh S.
Inorganic Chemistry 2021, 60(2), 1183-1194.

Quasilinear 3d-metal(i) complexes [KM(N(Dipp)SiR3)2] (M = Cr–Co) – structural diversity, solution state behaviour and reactivity
Weller R., Müller I., Duhayon C., Sabo-Etienne S., Bontemps S., Werncke C. G.
Dalton Transactions 2021, 50(14), 4890-4903.

Synthesis, characterization, and comparative theoretical investigation of dinitrogen-bridged group 6-gold heterobimetallic complexes
Specklin D., Coffinet A., Vendier L., del Rosal I., Dinoi C., Simonneau A.
Inorganic Chemistry 2021, 60(8), 5545–5562.

Transition metal-mediated dinitrogen functionalisation with boron
Simonneau A.
New Journal of Chemistry 2021, 45(21), 9294-9301.

Synthesis and characterisation of a very low-coordinate diferrous [2Fe-2S]0 unit
Schneider C., Groß S. J., Demeshko S., Bontemps S., Meyer F., Werncke G.
Chemical Communications 2021, 57(82), 10751-10754.

Redox-active ligands in electroassisted catalytic H+ and CO2 reductions: Benefits and risks
Queyriaux N.
ACS Catalysis 2021, 11(7), 4024-4035.

Vanadium-catalyzed terpolymerization of α,ω-dienes with ethylene and cyclic olefins: Ready access to polar-functionalized polyolefins
Palucci B., Zanchin G., Ricci G., Vendier L., Lorber C., Leone G.
Macromolecules 2021, 54(23), 10700-10711.

Cyclooctadiene Rh(I) bis- and tris(pyrazolyl)aluminate complexes and their catalytic activity on the polymerization of phenylacetylene
Garcia O. J., Vendier L., Etienne M., Gwaltney S., Ressler A., Muñoz-Hernández M.-Á.
Inorganic Chemistry 2021, 60(14), 10757-10763.

Enantioselective reductive oligomerization of carbon dioxide into L-erythrulose via a chemoenzymatic catalysis
Desmons S., Grayson-Steel K., Nuñez-Dallos N., Vendier L., Hurtado J., Clapés P., Fauré R., Dumon C., Bontemps S.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2021, 143(39), 16274–16283.

Borane-catalysed dinitrogen borylation by 1,3-B–H bond addition
Coffinet A., Zhang D., Vendier L., Bontemps S., Simonneau A.
Dalton Transactions 2021, 50(16), 5582-5589.

Impact of the alkali metal on the structural and dynamic properties of the anionic pentahydride ruthenium complexes [M(THF)x][RuH5(PCy3)2] (M = Li, Na, K)
Ayyappan R., Saha K., Grellier M., Clot E., Vendier L., Ghosh S., Sabo-Etienne S., Bontemps S.
Organometallics 2021, 40(17), 3024-3032.

Synthesis and reactivity of phosphine borohydride compounds
Ayyappan R., Coppel Y., Vendier L., Ghosh S., Sabo-Etienne S., Bontemps S.
Chemical Communications 2021, 57(3), 375-378.


Click here to consult the partners

Local: Laboratoire Hétérochimie Fondamentale et Appliquée (LHFA, Université de Toulouse Paul Sabatier), Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie des Nano-Objets (LPCNO, Institut National des Sciences Appliquées, Toulouse)
National: Université de Grenoble
International: University of York (Royaume-Uni), Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar, São Carlos, Brésil), Technische Universität Darmstadt (Allemagne), Instituto di Scienze e Tecnologie Chimiche Giulio Natta (CNR-SCITEC, Milano, Italie)



Click here to consult the funders

Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), Conseil Européen de la Recherche, Région Occitanie.


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  •  Dr. Anaïs Coffinet
    Anaïs obtained her Ph.D. in 2020 under the supervision of Dr. A. Simonneau. She worked on the functionalization of dinitrogen with boranes. She is currently a post-doctoral associate at the COBRA laboratory (Rouen, France).
  • Dr. David Specklin
    David worked in the team from 2018 to 2021 as a post-doctoral researcher in collaboration with Dr. A. Simonneau. His research topics have mainly focused on the synthesis and reactivity of heterobimetallic dinitrogen complexes.
  • Dr. Amal Bouammali
    Amal obtained her Ph.D. in 2022 under the supervision of Dr. A. Simonneau. She worked on the functionalization of dinitrogen with organometallic reagents.


Laboratoire de chimie de coordination du CNRS

205 route de Narbonne, BP 44099
31077 Toulouse cedex 4

+ 33 5 61 33 31 00