Marcel Swart

Spinning around in transition-metal chemistry

Contact info:
Dr. Marcel swart
Tel. (+34) 972 41 88 61


Selected publications

K. Rajabimoghadam, Y. Darwish, U. Bashir, D. Pitman, S. Eichelberger, M. Siegler, M. Swart and I. Garcia-Bosch
Catalytic Aerobic Oxidation of Alcohols by Copper Complexes Bearing Redox-Active Ligands with Tunable H-bonding Groups
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 16625-16634
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b08748

I. Monte Pérez, X. Engelmann, Y-M. Lee, M. Yoo, K. Elumalai, E.R. Farquhar, E. Bill, J. England, W. Nam, M. Swart and K. Ray
A Highly Reactive Oxoiron(IV) Complex Supported by a Bioinspired N3O Macrocylic Ligand
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 14384-14388
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201707872

S.K. Padamati, D. Angelone, A. Draksharapu, G. Primi, D.J. Martin, M. Tromp, M. Swart and W.R. Browne
Transient Formation and Reactivity of a High Valent Nickel(IV) Oxido Complex
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 8718-8724
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b04158

M. Swart and M. Gruden
Spinning around in transition-metal chemistry
Acc. Chem. Res. 2016, 49, 2690-2697
DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.6b00271

E.A. Hill, A.C. Weitz, E. Onderko, A. Romero-Rivera, Y. Guo, M. Swart, E.L. Bominaar, M.T. Green, M.P. Hendrich, D.C. Lacy and A.S. Borovik
Reactivity of an FeIV-Oxo Complex with Protons and Oxidants
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 13143-13146
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b07633

+ Publications

Dr. Marcel Swart

Marcel Swart obtained his PhD in Groningen (NL) with a study on copper proteins (Sept. 2002). He works since 2006 at the IQCC (Univ. Girona), and was promoted to ICREA Research Professor in Sept. 2009. He has published over 130 papers (cited >4100 times (Scopus, Web of Science), H-index 33), formed part of tribunals for Masters and PhD ceremonies, formed part of evaluation committees for ANEP, and as reviewer for >30 journals and (inter)national science organizations (ANEP, NWO, FWO, SNF, Prace). He has received funding from (inter)national science organizations and companies, organized a CECAM/ESF Workshop (Zaragoza, 2012), is Chair of a COST Action (CM1305, ECOSTBio), is Editor of a Wiley-book on “Spin states in Biochemistry and Inorganic Chemistry” (2015), is the main organizer for the Girona Seminars 2016/2018 and is Chair of the Young Academy of Europe. He was awarded the Young Scientist Excellence Award 2005, the MGMS Silver Jubilee Prize 2012, supervised two PhD theses with Premi Extraordinari, and in Nov. 2015 he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Research overview

He works in the field of theoretical (bio)inorganic and supramolecular chemistry, and works on transition-metal complexes, metalloproteins, enzymes, and DNA. The effect of (transition) metal ions on reactivity, selectivity and chemical bonding is one of the main topics in these studies. The development of computational tools for these studies is an important ingredient, to which he has contributed largely both with his own software (QUILD, DRF90) as in contributions in general purpose software (ADF, NWCHEM).

Spin states of transition-metal complexes

It has long been recognized that metal spin states play a central role in the reactivity of important biomolecules and in inorganic chemistry catalysis. Molecules with different numbers of unpaired electrons, hence with different spin states, have distinct geometric structures, energetic properties and reactivity. Elucidating the role and effect of different spin states on the properties of a system is presently one of the most challenging endeavors both from an experimental and theoretical point-of-view. This is in particular true for reaction mechanisms where the spin-state and/or oxidation state of a metal can change during the reaction. It has been described extensively in the recent Wiley book on “Spin states in Biochemistry and inorganic chemistry: Influence on Structure and Reactivity” (Eds: M. Swart, M. Costas).


Transition-metal reactivity studies

The reaction mechanism of chemical processes with transition-metals can (and often does) involve a switching from one spin-state to another during the reaction. This allows to overcome the low activity of molecules like dioxygen (in its triplet state), and facilitates reactions that would otherwise be spin-forbidden. Moreover, given the wide range of mechanistic possibilities available with the presence of transition-metals, often a multitude of reaction mechanisms has to be considered. In collaboration with experimental groups we are carrying out computational chemistry experiments to characterize intermediates and transition structures, to determine the most favorable reaction path.


Lewis acids: stabilization of vulnerable species and reactivity enhancement

In 2010 a ground-breaking experimental study by Fukuzumi and Nam was published in Nature Chemistry where they showed that adding Sc(OTf)3 to a FeIV-oxo complex (with the TMC ligand) has unprecedented consequences: (i) the axial ligand of iron is removed; (ii) scandium picks up a fourth triflate and an additional fifth axial ligand; (iii) the methyl groups of the TMC-ligand flip upwards (from anti towards oxo, to syn); and (iv) this interaction facilitates a two-electron reduction by ferrocene, instead of the one-electron reduction without the Lewis acid. This has opened a whole new research area where reactive species can be stabilized, or reactivity can be drastically improved. The effect of the Lewis acids on the stability, reactivity and spectroscopic properties is poorly understood, and is being studied here in collaboration with experimental groups.


Development of computational research tools

In order to be able to carry out the spinning around in transition-metal chemistry, new research tools have been developed such as the QUILD program with improved optimization and transition-search routines, and new density functionals (S12g, SSB-D) that work well for both spin states and weak interactions. The advantage of these tools is that they can be applied straightforwardly also to other systems such as DNA, SN2-reactions, NMR chemical shifts and the like



Principal Investigator

Marcel Swart

ICREA Research Professor

Staff and Postdocs

Joan Miró


Miquel Duran

Full Professor

Ramon Carbó-Dorca Carré

Honorary IQCC director - Collaborator

Varathan Elumalai


- M. Swart

PhD and MACMoM students

Frederico Martins

PhD Student (FPI)

- M. Swart

Lorenzo d’Amore

PhD student (IF-UdG)

- S. Osuna
- M. Swart

Rosa Mollfulleda

MACMOM student

- M. Swart


MCIU Proyectos I+D

Project: Correlating functionality
Researcher: Dr. Marcel Swart
Reference: PID2020-114548GB-I00
Funding: 121.000 €
Period: 2020 – 2023


Alicia CasitasUniv. Marburg (Germany), collaboration with Marcel Swart.
Kallol RayHumboldt Univ. Berlin (Germany), collaboration with Marcel Swart.
Aidan McDonaldTrinity College Dublin (Ireland), collaboration with Marcel Swart.
Maja GrudenUniv. Belgrade (Servia), collaboration with Marcel Swart.
Isaac Garcia-BoschCarnegie Mellon Univ. (USA), collaboration with Marcel Swart.

PhD defense Lorenzo D’Amore

Next Friday (10th of December, 11.00h, Sala de Graus – Facultat de Dret)

I’m a Chemist” – 700 students discussing with Marcel Swart at “Un dia en la #UdGRecerca”

Last October 28th, close to 700 students from 22 different high schools all around

Modulation of a mu-1,2-Peroxo Dicopper(II) Intermediate by Strong Interaction with Alkali Metal Ions

The properties of metal/dioxygen species, key intermediates in oxidation catalysis, can be modulated

IQCC Challenges – Live talks

The IQCC is starting a new series of online talks to address challenges in