Virginia Montiel-Palma

Virginia Montiel-Palma


  • Faculty


  • Analytical
  • Inorganic
  • Organometallic


  • Associate Professor



  • Hand Lab 2209

B.Sc. (Hon) National Autonomous University of Mexico, 1996
Ph.D. University of York, England, UK, 2000
Postdoctoral LCC Toulouse, France, 2002

Research in our group concerns the Coordination Chemistry of Transition Metals bonded to novel ligands with the long-term research goal of contributing to the rational design of molecular catalysts for industrial processes from a fundamental chemistry approximation, that is, through the generation and study (experimental and theoretical) of novel coordination and organometallic complexes designed as homogeneous models for catalytic transformations.  

Industrial development has greatly shifted towards the use of catalysts to the point that the majority of commercial chemical products involve catalytic processes at some stage of their production making them a multi-billion dollar business. By definition, catalytic reactions are recognized as environmentally friendly due to the reduced amount of reagents used and waste generated. However, owing to their physical/chemical complexity and the difficulties that in general haunt the study of reaction mechanisms, many catalytic cycles remain unsolved and their industrial implementation is mainly driven by empirical observations. One successful approach to elucidating catalytic mechanisms and thus to improve their efficiency is to employ transition metal molecular complexes in homogeneous phase as models.

Dual functionality phosphine ligands for transition metal complexation

Amongst the novel ligands we study, those incorporating both a group 14 element as well as a basic phosphorus atom in their structure have shown remarkable properties. Group 14 derivatives are exceptionally good sigma donors and exert a considerably high trans influence/effect, thus upon coordination they usually generate electron rich metal centers, which are in turn capable of activating otherwise inert substrates. In addition, the incorporation of phosphorous (and silicon or tin) in a ligand framework also allows for the employment of NMR spectroscopic tools. In the last years, the efforts of our research group have centred mainly on the design of pincer-like and tetrapodal phosphorous ligands functionalised with Si and Sn coordinated to second and third-row metals. We aim at extending our methodology to involve the coordination of cheaper, more environmentally-friendly first-row metals.

Homogeneous catalytic models

In particularly, our group wants to target catalytic dehydrogenative silylation (DHSi) and borylation (DHB) of alkenes to selectively synthesize unsaturated functionalized molecules (alkenyl-silanes and boranes) for a variety of applications. Other research groups around the world have targeted their synthesis making significant breakthroughs yet there remain large knowledge voids and central interrogations which must be addressed and fulfilled in order to improve selectivity, yield, reaction conditions, sustainability and substrate scope. Our research objective is to synthesize new catalysts of groups 8-10 transition metals (TM, and Mn) incorporating novel dual functionality Si-, Sn- or Ge- phosphine ligands.

The targeted unsaturated products, including for example vinylorganoboronic esters, are key building blocks and possess a wide variety of applications in industry and academia from material to life sciences. Amongst others, these applications are pharmaceuticals, polymers, cross-linking agents, rubbers and fine chemicals. In particular, the syntheses of the simplest vinyl compounds CH2=CHSiR3 and specially CH2=CHBR2 remain difficult challenges with scarce academic reports addressing them. We aim to generate them from catalytic DHSi or DHB from ethene.

Academic collaborations

We have ongoing important collaborations with international research groups particularly with those of
• Dr Sabo-Etienne and Dr Mary Grellier at LCC du CNRS, Toulouse, France.
• Dr Gabriel Merino at CINVESTAV, Merida, Mexico
• Dr Alejandro Ramírez at UAEM, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Positions Open

Research positions in our group are available to both graduate and undergraduate students. Enthusiastic and motivated students who are interested in acquiring a wide range of abilities ranging from synthetic organic and inorganic synthesis, analytical methods including NMR and XRD, homogeneous catalysis and interaction with computational methods are encouraged to contact Dr. Montiel at Hand Lab, Room 3326 or by e-mail for further details.

Selected Journal Publications

  1. Zamora-Moreno, J.;  Murillo, F.; Muñoz-Hernández, M. A.; Grellier, M.; Pan, S.; Jalife, S.; Merino, G.; Sabo-Etienne, S.; Montiel-Palma, V. “Modulation of an Anagostic Interaction in SiPSi-Type Pincer Platinum Complexes”. Organometallics 2018, in press. DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.8b00269.
  2. Rufino-Felipe, E.; Muñoz-Hernández, M. A., Montiel-Palma, V. “Lithium Complexes Derived of Benzylphosphines: Synthesis, Characterization and Evaluation in the ROP of rac-Lactide and ε-Caprolactone”. Molecules 2018, 23(1), 82; DOI:10.3390/molecules23010082
  3. Cuevas-Chávez, C. A.; Zamora-Moreno, J.; Muñoz-Hernández, M. A.;  Bijani, C.; Sabo-Etienne, S.; Montiel-Palma, V. “Stabilization of Trans Disilyl Coordination at Square Planar Platinum Complexes”. Organometallics 2018, 37, 720-728. DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet. 7b00566.
  4. Corona-González, M. V.; Zamora-Moreno, J.; Cuevas-Chávez, C. A.; Rufino-Felipe, E.; Mothes-Martin, E.; Coppel, Y.; Muñoz-Hernández, M. A.; Vendier, L.; Flores-Alamo, M.; Grellier, M.; Sabo-Etienne, S.; Montiel-Palma, V. A Family of Rhodium and Iridium Complexes with Semirigid Benzylsilyl Phosphines: From Bidentate to Tetradentate Coordination Modes. Dalt. Trans. 2017, 46 (27), 8827–8838 DOI: 10.1039/C7DT00727B
  5. Durango-García, C. J.; Jalife, S.; Cabellos, J. L.; Martínez, S. H.; Jimenez-Halla, J. O. C.; Pan, S.; Merino, G.; Montiel-Palma, V. Back to Basics: Identification of Reaction Intermediates in the Mechanism of a Classic Ligand Substitution Reaction on Vaska’s Complex. RSC Adv. 2016, 6 (4), 3386–3392. DOI:10.1039/C5RA20969B
  6. Montiel-Palma, V.; Muñoz-Hernández, M. A.; Cuevas-Chávez, C. A.; Vendier, L.; Grellier, M.; Sabo-Etienne, S. Phosphinodi (Benzylsilane) PhP {(o-C6H4CH2)SiMe2H}2: A Versatile “PSi2HX” Pincer-Type Ligand at Ruthenium. Inorg. Chem. 2013, 52 (17), 9798–9806. DOI: 10.1021/ic400703r
  7. Durango-García, C. J.; Jiménez-Halla, J. O. C.; López-Cardoso, M.; Montiel-Palma, V.; Muñoz-Hernández, M. A.; Merino, G. On the Nature of the Transition Metal–main Group Metal Bond: Synthesis and Theoretical Calculations on Iridium Gallyl Complexes. Dalton Trans. 2010, 39 (44), 10588–10589. DOI: 10.1039/C0DT01071E
  8. Montiel-Palma, V.; Muñoz-Hernández, M. A.; Ayed, T.; Barthelat, J.-C.; Grellier, M.; Vendier, L.; Sabo-Etienne, S. Agostic Si–H Bond Coordination Assists C–H Bond Activation at Ruthenium in Bis (Phosphinobenzylsilane) Complexes. Chem. Commun. 2007, 38, 3963–3965. DOI: 10.1039/B709408F