Synthethic Organometallic Chemistry

July 2021, top row: Zach, Cody, Ted; bottom row: Stephanie, Audrey, Hobbs, Vlad

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Professor Iluc studied chemistry at University Politehnica of Bucharest. In 2002, he started his PhD career at the University of Chicago, where he worked under the guidance of Professor Gregory Hillhouse. His research focused on metal-ligand multiple bonds in nickel complexes supported by chelating bisphosphine ligands. During 2008-2011, Dr Iluc was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology; there he worked with Professor Robert Grubbs and focused on C-H activation reactions catalyzed by iridium complexes. He joined the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at University of Notre Dame in summer 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and promoted in 2017 to Associate Professor.


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Notre Dame
251 Nieuwland Science Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5670 USA


Stepan Chemistry Hall
Phone: (574) 631 4042
Fax: (574) 631 6652


The Research Group:

Zachary Lincoln

Graduate Student

Stephanie Mueller

Undegraduate Student

Theodore Schultz

Graduate Student

Audrey Whiting

Graduate Student

Cody R. Work

Graduate Student


Unofficial Mascot

Former Group Members:

Graduate Students:

Dominic C. Babbini (Ph.D. 2016)
Brittany J. Barret (Ph.D. 2017)
Melissa R. Hoffbauer (Ph.D. 2018)
Amanda M. Holland (M.Sc. 2017)
Julie A. Kessler (Ph.D. 2017)
Patrick E. Rothstein (Ph.D. 2017)
Kevin R. Swartz (M.Sc. 2020)
Sean P. Villanova (Ph.D. 2016)

Undergraduate Students:

Anthony P. Deziel
Brittany J. Dymm
J. Spencer Edman
Cameron J. Hunter
Olivia W-L. Lanchoney
Daniel J. Lee

Postdoctoral Scholars:

Dr. Cezar C Comanescu (2011-2014)
Dr. Peng Cui (2012-2015)


Organometallic Chemistry: Synthesis and Catalysis

The Iluc research group focuses on the activation of inert molecules, with an emphasis on the functionalization of C–H bonds in a catalytic manner. These are imperative scientific problems since less expensive and more readily available feedstocks than those currently used could be employed to meet some of the energy demands of our society. In a broad sense, the group is interested in green chemistry both in its approach (catalysis) and emphasis on using inert substrates (activation of C-H bonds). The focus is on organometallic chemistry and especially on design of metal complexes that take advantage of latent reactivity. Two major areas are targeted: (1) the synthesis of ligand-based cabenoid centers with different reactivity and (2) the characterization of suntethered carbenes. Both areas aim towards small molecule activation with the ultimate goal of catalytic reactions.

Nucleophilic Carbenes

Ligand-based nucleophilic cabenes that show metal-ligand cooperativity in bond (C-H, O-H, N-H, Si-H etc.) activation.

Electrophilic Carbenes

Electrophilic carbenes generated throgh oxidation reactions that show reactivity with nucleophiles.

Radical Carbenes

First example of structural characterisation of a radical carbene (M= Pd, Pt).


Reactivity of carbenes towards multiple bonds for methathesis.

The group span synthesis, characterization, and mechanistic studies with an emphasis on understanding reactivity and design of new catalytic cycles. Students who are part of the group will become versatile scientists with skills drawing both on the synthesis of air-sensitive and air-stable metal complexes and on their characterization. Characterization methods include multinuclear NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography on a routine basis with other types of spectroscopy (UV-vis-NIR, IR, EPR, Mossbauer, X-ray absorption) and characterization techniques (magnetism, cyclic voltammetry) employed in order to understand the properties of the newly synthesized metal complexes in detail. Reactivity behavior will be informed both by kinetics analysis and DFT calculations. All these results will be used in designing systems with better catalytic performance than those existing at the present.


Check out some of our latest publications

[2+2] Cycloadditions with an Iron Carbene:
A Critical Step in Enyne Metathesis

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143(15), 5592–5597

Oxidation Reactions of a Nucleophilic Palladium Carbene: Mono and Bi-radical Carbenes

Dalton Trans. 2019, 48, 9663-9668

Square Planar Nucleophilic and Radical Pt(II) Carbenes

Organometallics 2019, 38(4), 879-887

Reactivity of a Pd(II) Carbene towards 2,6-dimesitylphenyldiazomethane and 2,6-dimesitylphenylazide

Plyhedron 2019, 158, 352-356

Influence of the Leaving Group on C-H Activation Pathways in Palladium Pincer Complexes

Organometallics 2018, 37(13), 2086-2094

Formation of Palladium η2-bound Chalcogenoketones across a Pd+−C- Bond

Chem. Eur. J. 2017, 23(16), 16948-16952


Useful Links


Some older group photos

October 2013

Vlad, dominic, Julie, Spencer, Brittany, Patrick, Sean, Cezar, Peng

April 2015

Patrick, Vlad, Sean, Melissa, Julie, Brittany, Dominic, Peng

April 2015

Julie, Melissa, Brittany, Sean, Dominic, Peng, Patrick, Vlad

April 2015

CPatrick, Sean, Melissa, Julie, Dominic, Brittany, Peng

March 2019

Joe, Niklas, Cody, Olivia, Vlad, Tony, Kevin, Cameron, Melissa

July 2016

Vlad, Brendan, Julie, Louis, Brittany, Sean, Patrick, Felicia, Melissa, Brittany, Dominic