Bonjour et bienvenue! Our main research goal is to develop catalysts that are made of Earth-abundant elements for chemical transformations relevant to synthesis, energy, and sustainability. Towards this goal, we currently focus on base metal catalyzed organic synthesis, electrochemical water splitting and CO2 reduction, fuel cell catalysis, as well as the development of synthetic models for the active site of metalloenzymes.

Check out our publications for the latest research results.

EPFL Master students: Please follow the guideline in this file when applying for any projects.

Latest News

Follow the group news in our Twitter account.

See News Archive and Group Events for all news.


  • [August] Congratulations to Marten Ploeger for a successful public presentation of his PhD thesis before receiving his doctoral degree.


  • [August] Congratulations to Laurent Liardet for a successful public presentation of his PhD thesis before receiving his doctoral degree.
  • [August] Congratulations to Runze Mao for being selected as one of the finalists of the 2019 Reaxys PhD prize. See details.
  • [July] Congratulations to Lichen Bai for winning a travel award from Swiss Chemical Society and SCNAT. See details.
  • [June] Press release of our work in Fe-catalyzed CO2 electroreduction: Carbon-neutral fuels move a step closer. See details.
  • [May] Prof. Hu received the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Homogeneous Catalysis Award. See details. And EPFL news release.
  • [March] We welcome Ms. Christelle Turla Aurélya as a new apprentice.
  • [February] Press release of our work in oxygen evolution catalysis: A water-splitting catalyst unlike any other, see details.
  • [February] Press release of our work in Photoelectrocatalytic Arene C-H Amination: Light-based production of drug-discovery molecules, see details. See also a highlight in Chemistry World: Solar cell tries its hand at organic synthesis.
  • [January] The lab welcomes Dr. Mahbod Heidari as a postdoc engineer. Dr. Heidari will work on the ERC Proof-of-Concept project to develop a thermal water purification system.


  • [October] The lab welcomes Mr. Xingyu Wu as a PhD student. Xingyu received his BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering from Tianjin University, China.
  • [September] Prof. Hu received the Resonate Award from Caltech. He was honored at a special reception following the 2018 Resnick Young Investigators Symposium at Caltech. See details. And EPFL News.
  • [September] Congratulations to Dr. Fang Song, a former postdoc in the group, for starting a tenure-track faculty position in the department of materials sciences and engineering at the Shanghai Jiaotong University.
  • [August] The lab welcomes Dr. Pengzuo Chen as a postdoctoral scholar. Pengzou just received his PhD from University of Science and Technology in China.
  • [July] The lab welcomes Dr. Chin Lee Ong as a postdoctoral engineer. Chin Lee (Jeff) received an innogrant from EPFL to develop a prototype of enhanced thermal separation systems for waste water treatment and desalination.
  • [June] The lab welcomes Ms. Céline Pringe as a new PhD student. Céline obtianed two masters’ degree from ETH Zurich, one in interdisciplinary studies (Chemistry) and one in Biology.
  • [April] Congratulations to Carlos Morales-Guio, a former PhD student, who has accepted a position of assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  • [April] Congratulations to Laurent Liardet and Runze Mao for receiving the Chemistry Travel Award from the Swiss Chemical Society and SCNAT.
  • [February] A press lease about our latest paper in amination chemistry: Light and copper catalysis improve amine synthesis.  See details.
  • [January] The ceremony for the 2017 National Latsis Prize took place in Bern. See news release and photos.
  • [January] The lab welcomes Dr. Srikrishna Bera as a postdoctoral scholar. Dr. Bera just received his PhD degree in organic chemistry from the University of Münster in Germany, working in the lab of Prof. Armido Studer.


  • [November ] Prof. Hu received the National Latsis Prize, from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) on behalf of the International Latsis Foundation. See press release from SNSF, in English and French. See also the EPFL version of News and video, with a sneak view of the lab.

Selected Recent Publications

  1. Xu, T.; Wodrich, M. D.; Scopelliti, R.; Corminboeuf, C.; Hu, X. L.*, Nickel pincer model of the active site of lactate racemase involves ligand participation in hydride transfer. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 2017, 114 1242.
  2. Cheung, C. W.; Ploeger, M. L.; Hu, X.L.*, Direct amidation of esters with nitroarenes. Nature Communications 2017, 8, 14878.
  3. Buslov, I.; Song, F.; Hu, X. L.* An Easily Accessed Nickel Nanoparticle Catalyst for Alkene Hydrosilylation with Tertiary Silanes Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2016, 55, 12295-12299.
  4. Cheung, C. W.; Hu, X. L.* Amine synthesis via iron-catalysed reductive coupling of nitroarenes with alkyl halides Nature Communications 2016, 7, 12494.
  5. Xu, X.; Song, F.*; Hu, X. L.* A nickel iron diselenide-derived efficient oxygen-evolution catalyst Nature Communications 2016, 7, 12324.
  6. Morales-Guio, C. G.; Liardet, L.; Hu, X. L.* Oxidatively Electrodeposited Thin-Film Transition Metal (Oxy)hydroxides as Oxygen Evolution Catalysts Journal of the American Chemical Society 2016, 138, 8946-8957.
  7. Xu, T.; Yin, C. J. M.; Wodrich, M. D.; Mazza, S.; Schultz, K. M.; Scopelliti, R.; Hu, X. L.* A Functional Model of Fe -Hydrogenase Journal of the American Chemical Society 2016, 138, 3270-3273.
  8. Shima, S.;* Chen, D.F.; Xu, T.; Wodrich, M.D.; Fujishiro, T.; Schultz, K.M.; Kahnt, J.; Ataka, K.; Hu, X.L.* Reconstitution of [Fe]-hydrogenase using model complexes. Nature Chemistry 2015, 7, 995-1002.
  9. Buslov, I.; Becouse, J.; Mazza, S.; Montandon-Clerc, M.; Hu, X.L.* Chemoselective Alkene Hydrosilylation Catalyzed by Nickel Pincer Complexes. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2015, 54, 14523-14526.
  10. Morales-Guio, C.G.; Mayer, M.T.; Yella, A.; Tilley, S.D.; Grätzel, M.; Hu, X.L.* An Optically Transparent Iron Nickel Oxide Catalyst for Solar Water Splitting. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2015, 137, 9927–9936.
  11. Stern, L.A.; Feng, L.G.; Song, F.; Hu, X.L.* Ni2P as a Janus catalyst for water splitting: the oxygen evolution activity of Ni2P nanoparticles. Energy & Environmental Science 2015, 8, 2347-2351.
  12. Cheung, C.W.; Zhurkin, F.E.; Hu, X.L.* Z-Selective olefin synthesis via iron-catalyzed reductive coupling of alkyl halides with terminal arylalkynes. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2015, 137, 4932–4935.