I am an Associate Professor in Chemistry in the School of Chemistry which I joined in June 2019. I obtained my BSc in Chemistry (2007) and MRes (2009) at the University of Sassari (Italy). In 2010 I moved to the University of Nottingham to undertake my PhD studies (2010-2014) under the supervision of Prof. Deborah Kays investigating Alkaline Earth chemistry and sustainable synthesis. I then moved to the University of Manchester to work as a PDRA with Prof. David Mills, Prof. Richard Winpenny, Prof. Steve Liddle and Dr Louis Natrajan. During this time I worked within various projects funded by several funding bodies and charities (EPSRC, ERC, STFC, Leverhulme Trust), covering a range of topics in f-element chemistry: molecular magnetism, actinide organometallic and coordination chemistry, lanthanide-element multiple bonding interactions. Throughout my career I have had the chance to work as part of multidisciplinary teams at the interface between inorganic chemistry, sustainable synthesis and materials science and have established a wide network of collaborations in Europe, Asia and America.
My main research focus is on organometallic and coordination chemistry of s- and f-block metals. Together with improving our fundamental understanding of these elements I am interested in their application in small molecule activation C-H activation sustainable synthesis and catalysis. There are several projects currently running in our group which include:
- Identification of Alkaline and Rare Earth metals in unusual coordination motifs and oxidation states (EPSRC New Investigator Award: EP/W00691X/1; Royal Society of Chemistry Research Enablement Grant: E21-4580874540)
- New catalysts for hydroelementation catalysis
- Alkaline earth and rare earth organometallic chemistry
- Cerium photocatalysis (Royal Society Grant: RGS\R2\202097)
All the compounds produced by my research team are synthesised using advanced Schlenk line and glovebox techniques. We then perform comprehensive characterisations of our compounds using a variety of spectroscopic and analytical techniques e.g. single crystal X-ray crystallography, multinuclear NMR, UV-vis-NIR spectroscopy, EPR, cyclic voltammetry.
- A Blueprint for the Stabilization of Sub-Valent Alkaline Earth Complexes: A.J.W. Bowles, Y. Liu, M.P. Stevens, I.J. Vitorica-Yrezabal, C.L. McMullin, F. Ortu, Chem. Eur. J., 2023, accepted article.
- The Bulk Breast Cancer Cell and Breast Cancer Stem Cell Activity of Bi-nuclear Copper(II)-Phenanthroline Complexes: P. Osei, J. Northcote-Smith, J. Fang, K. Singh, F. Ortu, K. Suntharalingam, Chem. Eur. J., 2023, accepted article.
- Structural Investigation of Magnesium Complexes Supported by a Thiopyridyl Scorpionate Ligand: M.P. Stevens, E. Spray, I.J. Vitorica-Yrezabal, K. Singh, V.M. Timmermann, L. Sotorrios, F. Ortu, Molecules, 2022, 27, 4564.
- Synthesis, Characterisation and Reactivity of Group 2 Complexes with a Thiopyridyl Scorpionate Ligand: M.P. Stevens, E. Spray, I.J. Vitorica-Yrezabal, K. Singh, V.M. Timmermann, L. Sotorrios, S.A. Macgregor, F. Ortu, Dalton Trans., 2022, 51, 11922.
- Rare Earth Starting Materials and Methodologies for Synthetic Chemistry: F. Ortu, Chem. Rev., 2022, 122, 6040.
- Photoluminescence of Pentavalent Uranyl Amide Complexes: F. Ortu, S. Randall, D.J. Moulding, A. Woodward, A. Kerridge, K. Meyer, H.S. La Pierre, L.S. Natrajan, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2021, 143, 13184.
- Synthesis and characterization of new Pd(II) and Pt(II) complexes with 3-substituted 1-(2-pyridyl)imidazo[15-a]pyridine ligands: S. Stoccoro, S. Pischedda, A. Zucca, G. Sciortino, F. Ortu, G. Clarkson, Dalton Trans., 2021, 50, 4859.
- Studies of Hysteresis and Quantum Tunnelling of the Magnetisation in Dysprosium(III) Single Molecule Magnets: F. Ortu, D. Reta, Y.-S. Ding, C. A. P. Goodwin, M. P. Gregson, E. J. L. McInnes, R. E. P. Winpenny, Y.-Z. Zheng, S. T. Liddle, D. P. Mills, N. F. Chilton, Dalton Trans., 2019, 48, 8541.
- Field- and temperature-dependent quantum tunnelling of the magnetisation in a large 2 barrier single-molecule magnet: Y. S. Ding, K.-X. Yu, D. Reta, F. Ortu, R. E. P. Winpenny, Y. Z. Zheng, N. F. Chilton, Nature Commun., 2018, 9, 3134.
- Synthesis and Electronic Structures of Heavy Lanthanide Metallocenium Cations: C.A.P. Goodwin, D. Reta, F. Ortu, N.F. Chilton, D.P. Mills, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 18714.
- Molecular magnetic hysteresis at 60 kelvin in dysprosocenium: C. A. P. Goodwin, F. Ortu, D. Reta, N. F. Chilton, D. P. Mills, Nature, 2017, 548, 439.
- Analysis of Lanthanide-Radical Magnetic Interactions in Ce(III) 22′-Bipyridyl Complexes: F. Ortu, J. Liu, M. Burton, J. M. Fowler, A. Formanuik, M.-E. Boulon, N. Chilton, D. P. Mills, Inorg. Chem., 2017, 56, 2496.
The Ortu Group currently includes three PhD students and one Postdoctoral Research Associate. Every year we host BSc and MChem research projects, where the students who work alongside experienced members of our team and learn advanced techniques in inorganic and organometallic chemistry.
We offer projects in the following topics:
- Synergic C-H activation chemistry with multimetallic systems
- Rare Earths and Frustrated Lewis-Pair chemistry
- Alkaline Earth coordination chemistry and catalysis
- Low oxidation state Lanthanide chemistry
PhD studentships are advertised through the Ortu Group webpages, jobs.ac.uk and the University of Leicester website. We also support internships and research visits. Contact us directly for an informal chat if you're interested in joining the group!
I teach in several modules in our Chemistry BSc and MChem degrees:
- CH3205 Metals in Synthesis (module convenor)
- CH3205 Metals in Synthesis (DLI - module convenor)
- CH4207 Advanced Structural Determination
I am involved in General Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry modules (tutorials workshops revision sessions) and I supervise final year MChem and BSc projects.
Press and media
I am available to offer expertise and professional advice on the following topics:
- Rare Earth and Lanthanide chemistry
- Sustainable synthesis
- Applications of inorganic chemistry in catalysis and materials science
I have been involved in the production of scientific material for outreach and TV shows:
Memberships of Scientific Societies:
- Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
- Member of the American Chemical Society
- Member of the British Crystallographic Association
- University of Leicester representative for RSC East Midlands Local Section
- 2022 Chemistry Staff Awards - Best Tutor
- 2021 Dalton Division Horizon Prize (Molecular Magnetism Group)
- Magnetochemistry Travel Award 2018 (ICCC2018 Sendai)
- Manchester & District RSC Local Section Bursary (ICOMC2016 Melbourne)
- Dalton Division Travel Grant (ICOMC2016 Melbourne)
- RSC Dalton Division UK/Canada Ambassador Bursary (CSC 2015 Ottawa)
- RSC Small Grant for Scientific Activities (2014/15)