RUB »  Faculty of Chemistry and Biochemistry » Organic Chemistry II »  Merten research group


We are interested in the mechanisms of the transfer of chirality respectively chiral information in systems relevant for asymmetric catalysis and chiral recognition. Our main experimental tool is vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) spectroscopy.

Oct 2018:
Funding by BIS Plus-3 Programme

We have received the great news that Christian's grant application in the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation's perspective Programme "Plus 3" has been granted! Find out more in the university's press release and expect exciting results from our studies on chiral recognition through halogen bonding in the near future!

Oct 2018: Msc done, hello PhD

Luisa finished her Masters thesis and stays with us for a challenging PhD project in the framework of the Research Training Group "Confinement controlled chemistry".

Sep 2018: Substrate binding of thiourea catalysts

We show that VCD can be used to reveal the binding geometries of hydrogen bonding adducts of Takemoto’s catalyst with five carboxylic acids. Moreover, popular dispersion corrected DFT functionals are shown to yield wrong structures for some of the adducts and that VCD spectral signatures are particularly helpful identifying and correcting the mispredicted geometries.

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Sep 2018: Dr Corina

Corina successfully defended her PhD Thesis on Sep 28th. Congrats for this nice Piece of work! :) She'll stay as postdoc for another year or two and continue the work on matrix-Isolation VCD spectroscopy.

Aug 2018: Solvation of carboxylic acids

Solvating functional groups can be tricky. Here we show solvent effects on carboxylic acids have to be treated in the analysis of VCD spectra.

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Poster prize for Corina

Corina won a poster prize (1st place) at the Chirality meeting 2018 at Princeton Univeristy for her poster on matrix-Isolation VCD spectroscopy! Congrats!! :)

May 2018: How to treat CF-vibrations?

Our recent contribution to PCCP highlights the surprising performance of the M06-2X functional in the prediction of C-F stretching vibrations and traces it back to a fortunate compensation of Errors.

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Apr 2018: Nora and Tino start their PhD projects

... after completing their Masters projects in our lab. Tino will work on active conformations of asymmetric catalysist. Nora will take care of the new Instrumentation for measurement in liquid rare gases, which she set up during her Masters thesis Project, and measure binding enthalphies of halogen bonded complexes.

October 2017:
Supramolecular H-bonding motif

This work shows that the intuitive assumption of the sterically less hindered amide group being solvated preferentially does not hold for the cases of two 2,6-pyridinediyl-dialkylamides. Using vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) spectroscopy, solvation is found to induce significant conformational changes, which are not immediately apparent from 1H NMR data.

The work got rated as "hot paper" by the reviewers and was featured on the front cover of Chem. Eur. J. Read more about it in the Cover Profile or of course in the paper.

June 2017:
VOA to study intermolecular interactions

A lot of our studies use stereochemistry as probe for intermolecular interactions. Christian summarizes these ideas in a recent Perspective Article for PCCP, which is also featured on the cover page.

June 2017:
How to solvate R-COOH?

In this PCCP article, we report how different solvents affect the VCD spectral signatures of a chiral carboxylic acid, and show that sometimes even ACN needs to be considered explicitly to reproduce the experimentally observed spectra.

June 2017:
Chirality induction in suprachem

Can a supramolecular self-assembled capsule feel the chirality of its guest? In this collaboration with K. Tiefenbacher (U Basel), we show: Yes it can.

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Focus solvation

As part of the special issue on solvation of the german chemistry journal "Chemie in unserer Zeit", Christian writes about the solvation shell around chiral molecules and how it can be affected by the solute.

January 2017:
Angewandte paper on photochemical switching

The chiroptical properties of both the E- and Z-isomer of a champhorquinone imine derivative are studied by means of MI-VCD spectroscopy, which is showcased as a powerful tool for the characterization of the switching states of chiral molecular motors.

August 2016: Understanding VCD from MD

By combining results from DFT and semi-empirical REMD simulations, we analyzed the VCD of an N,C-proteced valine.

July 2016: Hot paper on chiral thiourea

Using VCD, the conformational preferences of a chiral thiourea in different solvents and its interaction with an acetate anion were investigated. Characteristic spectral signatures were found for different groups of
conformers and showcase the potential of using VCD spectroscopy to study reactant–
catalyst interactions.

June 2016:
Solvation and dihydrogen bonding

...of a chiral secondary amine borane has been studied in chloroform and acetonitrile.

April 2016:
First paper on matrix isolation VCD

In our new paper on MI-VCD, we show that the conformation of a chiral molecule can be significantly distorted due to matrix packing effects.

April 2016:
Old and new members

Contratulations to Karo for submitting her Masters thesis, and also good luck for your PhD project in our lab! :) Furthermore, we welcome Jana and Hendrik, who join us for the summer for their Bachlor thesis project.

September 2015
Absolute configurations of linear diterpenes

... have been thought to very difficult to assign using VCD spectroscopy due to the high conformational flexiblity. We show in our Chem Comm paper that it's actually feasible.

June 2015
Angewandte paper on asymmetric induction

In collaboration with Benjamin List from the Max-Planck-Institut for Coal Research, VCD spectroscopy was used to study the transmission of stereochemical information in a chiral ion pair based catalyst. Spectral features indicative of chirality transfer from the chiral anion to the achiral cation can be correlated with the enantioselectivity of the catalyst.

February 2015
Work featured in Bunsenmagazin

Chirality as probe for intermolecular interactions is the fundamental idea of many of our research projects. In advance of the Bunsentagung, the annual meeting of the German Society for Physical Chemistry, Christian presents a review in the Bunsenmagazin.

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01. November 2014
Corina's first day

Today, Corina joins the lab as the first PhD student. She got her MSc degree in physical organic chemistry in Wolfram Sander's group, and decided to move to the lab next door to work on interactions of chiral molecules. Welcome and good luck. :)

15 July 2014
Angewandte paper on dihydrogen bonding

A chiral amine–borane is investigated by VCD spectroscopy. By comparison of experimental and calculated spectra, a unique VCD pattern associated with the formation of dihydrogen-bonded dimers in solution is identified. Different dihydrogen binding arrangements in solution and in solid state are characterized.

08 May 2014
Paper on chiral polymers in PCCP

Solvent-driven chiroptical switching of a helical chiral poly(carbodiimide): In collaboration with the group of Bruce Novak (University of Texas, Dallas), we investigate the structural changes of a chiral polymer upon change of solvent polarity and temperature and observe the flipping of polymer side groups and a shrinking of the backbone.

07 Mar 2014
New paper in Inorganic Chemistry

Solvent-effects in chiral transition metal complex: A comparison between the experimental and calculated VCD spectra proves the existence of both Δ and Λ isomers in an acetonitrile solution. However, a significant shift of the equilibrium toward the Λ diastereomer is found for the complex in dimethyl sulfoxide.

27 Jan 2014
First paper on cyclic peptides in collaboration with the Sander group

08 Nov 2013
VCD Instrumentation arrived and installed

Last monday, the VCD instrument arrived savely in the basement lab in NC 05/655. A great technician from Bruker Optics installed it during this week and now it's finally running. Research can start!

01 Oct 2013

Christian's first day as research group leader at the Faculty of Chemistry. The position is funded by the Fonds der chemischen Industrie with a Liebig fellowship. The group and instrumentation is funded by the Cluster of Excellence RESOLV.


Open Positions

Interested in working on an exciting research project involving synthesis, experimental and theoretical IR/VCD spectroscopy? We are always looking for Bachelor and Master students and offer experiments for practical lab courses.

!! Two PhD positions available !!