Welcome to "4f for Future"

Welcome to the website of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1573 "4f for Future". CRC 1573 is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and has officially been launched on January 1st, 2023, cf. press releases from DFG and KIT. It is coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), its partners are the University of Marburg (UMR), LMU Munich (LMU, until 09/2023), HHU Düsseldorf (HHU, since 10/2023) and the University of Tübingen (UTÜ). 

Materials based on rare-earth metals and their compounds are of crucial importance to our modern high-tech society. Surprisingly, the molecular chemistry of these elements is poorly developed. However, recent progress in this area has shown that this is going to change: In the past years, dynamic developments in the chemistry and physics of molecular rare earth compounds have shifted borders and paradigms that existed for decades.

The chemistry of molecular and nanoscaled rare-earth compounds and their physical properties are in the focus of our CRC “4f for Future”. Its researchers will study synthesis paths and physical properties of new molecular and nanoscaled rare-earth compounds in order to develop materials with unprecedented optical and magnetic properties. 

Find out more about the individual research projects here.


Latest CRC News 

Photo of Prof. Walensky J. R. Walensky, chemistry.missouri.edu
Guest Lecture by Prof. J. R. Walensky

Prof. Dr. Justin R. Walensky (Chair of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Missouri) will be a guest of our CRC and present a lecture on "Small Molecule Activation with the Actinides" in the Anorganisch-Chemisches Kolloquium at KIT on Monday, June 3, 2024, at 17:00 h.

Venue: AOC seminar room 101, building 30.45, KIT Campus South.

All interested parties are cordially invited to this lecture. 



Tris-(tetramethylcyclopentadienyl)-Ianthan molecule: The light blue electron density represents the electron distribution after the most important excitation in the La L3 edge of the X-ray absorption spectrum. (Cooperation between projects A3 and Q.)  KIT
Turbomole Workshop

A Turbomole hands-on workshop will be held at KIT, Campus South, on June 26-28, 2024, organized together with the Research Training Group (RTG) 2450. After introductory lectures on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 26, a hands-on workshop for beginners will be held on Thursday, June 27. The hands-on workshop will be completed by a session for advanced users on the morning of Friday, June 28. Contact persons are PIs Prof. Karin Fink, Prof. Willem M. Klopper, and Prof. Florian Weigend.


The workshop is open to (associated) members of RTG 2450 and to (associated) members of the integrated RTG of our CRC 1573. 

Logo for "Türen auf mit der Maus" WDR, Lena Daumann
"Türen auf mit der Maus"

As part of the well-known German TV format "Sendung mit der Maus", a nationwide day of action will take place on Oct. 3, 2024, on which Prof. Lena Daumann's team at HHU Düsseldorf will also participate with an experimental lecture for kids (already fully booked!) on rare earths: "Your cell phone needs them and so do bacteria: rare earth elements. They are not that rare, but their extraction is difficult and not very environmentally friendly. To make future applications for these elements more sustainable, we are performing research on bacteria that 'devour' old magnets." 


Quantum Chemistry Workshop KIT
Quantum Chemistry Workshop

New Developments in Quantum Chemistry will be in the focus of an international workshop, organized together with the Research Training Group (RTG) 2450 at KIT, Campus South on Oct. 10 & 11, 2024. Quantum chemistry has experienced significant advancements over the past two decades, allowing researchers to explore complex chemical systems with unprecedented accuracy and detail, leading to a deeper understanding of molecular behavior and reactivity. Contact persons are Prof. Marcus Elstner (speaker of RTG 2450) and PI Prof. Willem M. Klopper.


Registration is free of cost and open to everybody via the workshop's website



Screenshot of video clip ZDF tivi "Princess of Science"
Public outreach in TV & social media

Sophie Gutenthaler-Tietze, CRC doctoral researcher in Prof. Lena Daumann's group at HHU Düsseldorf, is very active in educational video clips on chemistry for the classroom, produced by German public broadcasting networks: 


In this entertaining ARD "Planet Schule" video she talks about chemical processes involved in crime-solving, familiarizing pupils with redox reactions, dye chemistry or catalysts, and in a ZDF "Princess of Science" feature she explains (starting at 19:30 min.) the role of rare-earth metals in modern technology. (Both clips are available only in German.) 


Together with her CRC colleague Ioana Ciubotaru at LMU München, also a doctoral researcher with Prof. Daumann, she belongs to the organization team for "Soapbox Science", an annual Munich-based public science communication event that brings cutting-edge science to the public in a fun and un-intimidating way. 


Participants of Spring Seminar Days 2024 CRC 1573
CRC Spring Seminar Days 2024

This year's CRC Spring Seminar Days were held in Pforzheim on March 21 & 22.The two days, organized by JProf. Dr. Schirin HanfDr. Alexander Hinz and our IRTG manager Dr. Xiaofei Sun, were filled with enriching talks and discussions on 4f chemistry - not only by the doctoral and postdoctoral researchers of the individual CRC projects, but also including the unique opportunity to connect with young professionals from industry. 

LogoTU Dresden
Participation in Spring School on the "Chemistry of f-Elements"

Prof. Lena Daumann gave an interesting lecture on "f-elements and their interaction with living organisms and their biomolecules" in the framework of the FENABIUM II Spring School 2024 (held in Leipzig/Germany), which aimed at introducing interested students to the complex chemistry of f-elements. 

group photo of visitors CRC 1573
Public outreach activity in schools

Our established collaboration with Technische Schule Aalen/Germany resulted in a nice group visit headed by their teacher Dr. C. Zimmermann on Jan. 9, 2024. Project leader Prof. Claus Feldmann (AOC) and co-workers gave the young students an overview of our CRC at KIT, a tour of AOC facilities and an introduction into chemistry in general as well as lanthanides in particular. Following an eager discussion and a very positive response, the students "now know everything there is to know between La and Lu". 

After successful PhD thesis defense: Tonya Vitova, Bianca Schacherl, Claudia Joseph, Horst Geckeis  (from left to right) INE, KIT
KIT Doctoral Award for Dr. Bianca Schacherl

Congratulations to our associate CRC graduate Bianca Schacherl (co-supervised by Dr. Tonya Vitova, project A3) who has won the KIT Doctoral Award 2023 for her thesis on "Advancing actinide high-energy resolution X-ray absorption/emission spectroscopic tools". With this highly competitive award, KIT honors outstanding doctoral researchers, thereby highlighting the great importance of young scientists at KIT.


Cyclocene molecule made with strontium Nature / c&en
"4f for Future" molecule voted favorite of 2023

Readers of Chemistry & Engineering News (C&EN) elected strontium cyclocene as “standout molecule of 2023“.

In their quest for determining this year’s “most curious, wondrous, and just plain neat molecules“ their choice fell on this new type of supersize sandwich complex created by the groups of F. Weigend, M. Kappes and P. Roesky within the framework of CRC 1573 by coaxing 18 metallocene units to curve into a nanometer-scale ring (a “cyclocene“, cf. Nature paper).

...OlexSys Ltd. / CRC1573
"Olex 2" Workshop at KIT

From December 5-7, 2023, our CRC hosted a hands-on workshop on structure solution and refinement using the crystallographic package "Olex2". The event, organized by the scientific software company Olex Sys Ltd., was a complete success, and the approximately 50 participants found the workshop extremely valuable for their everyday scientific work. 



Mercator Fellow Prof. Roithová (right) with Prof. Kappes (left) and his co-worker Alex SchäferCRC 1573
Mercator Fellow Jana Roithová visits our CRC

Prof. Jana Roithová (Radboud University, Nijmegen/NL), an expert on gas-phase spectroscopy & mass spectrometry and CRC Mercator Fellow, stayed at KIT in mid-November 2023 as a guest of Prof. Manfred Kappes (IPC, KIT). Beyond the intensive scientific exchange with CRC researchers she also gave a very well-received public lecture on her research work "monitoring electrocatalytic reactions". 

The photo shows Prof. Roithová with her host Prof. Kappes (left) and his doctoral researcher Alex Schäfer in front of the newly developed He-TAG apparatus employed in project C3 at IPC

group photo with Prof. Sessoli CRC 1573
Mercator Fellow Roberta Sessoli visits CRC

CRC Mercator Fellow Prof. Roberta Sessoli (University of Florence/Italy), one of the leading experts in molecular magnetism, visited our CRC as a guest of project leader Prof. Annie K. Powell (KIT), in November 2023. In addition to her fascinating lecture "Is there space for magnetic molecules in the second quantum revolution?", she was of course deeply engaged in scientific exchange with CRC researchers and stimulating discussions with young scientists. 




SWR "Science Talk" SWR
SWR Science Talk on Modern Inorganic Chemistry

Our CRC co-spokesperson Prof. Dr. Stefanie Dehnen (KIT) gave an extended TV interview on "modern chemistry: in search of new compounds" in the framework of the German Südwestrundfunk's (SWR) "Science Talk" series, explaining the development of new substances: "We look at which combinations of elements are not yet available but could have interesting properties." The complete half-hour feature (in German) can be found here. 


Group photo of Worlkshop participantsCRC 1573
CRC Fall Workshop 2023

The first annual Fall Workshop of CRC 1573 was successfully held at Bühl (11.-13.10.2023). Organized by project leaders Prof. Dr. Karin Fink and Prof. Dr. Wim Klopper, the first day was directed at the IRTG members (mainly doctoral researchers) and featured two extended poster sessions and two highly interesting tutorials on quantum-chemical theory (given by the chair persons). This was rounded off by an exciting guest lecture by quantum chemist Dr. Maike Bergeler (BASF SE). 

On the second and third day the workshop continued with status reports from the individual project leaders. A total of more than 50 CRC members took part, facilitating various networking activities. The group photo was also taken on this occasion. 



Prof. Dr. Lena Daumann Prof. Lena Daumann
Lena Daumann appointed W3 professor in Düsseldorf

As of October 2023, our project leader Prof. Dr. Lena J. Daumann was appointed new W3 professor for Bioinorganic Chemistry at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU). The expert on rare earth metals and their interaction with living organisms joins HHU, after having been at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich for seven years. 

We wish her a great start in Düsseldorf and continued high output in research and teaching! 


Prof.  Stefanie Dehnen (KIT) GDCh / Stefanie Dehnen (KIT)
Prof. Dehnen to become new GDCh president

Congratulations to our CRC co-spokesperson Prof. Dr. Stefanie Dehnen (KIT) who was unanimously elected as the future president of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (German Chemical Society, GDCh). During her two-year term in office, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, Prof. Dehnen would like to further open up the GDCh and advance it on its path to becoming a modern, diverse and internationally oriented specialist society. 

With around 30,000 members, GDCh is one of the largest chemical scientific societies worldwide. It promotes scientific work, research and teaching as well as the exchange and dissemination of new scientific knowledge. 



Young female researchers of CRC 1573 CRC 1573
Dr. Ping Yang visits our CRC

On Sept. 13, 2023, Dr. Ping Yang (Deputy Director of the G.T. Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), USA) was our guest, following an invitation by project leader Dr. Tonya Vitova

Dr. Ping Yang gave a great presentation on "Data-driven Separation Design for f-Elements". Following the talk there was an intensive career-path discussion of young international female CRC researchers with Dr. Ping Yang who also provided valuable details, e.g., on the Seaborg Postdoctoral or Summer Fellowship program of LANL



The new molecular structure in which sandwich complexes form a nano-sized ring is called ‘cyclocene' Nature / AOC, KIT
Nanorings: New Building Blocks for Chemistry

Sandwich compounds are special chemical compounds used as basic building blocks in organometallic chemistry. So far, their structure has always been linear. Recently, "4f for Future" researchers were the first to make stacked sandwich complexes form a nano-sized ring. Physical and other properties of these cyclocene structures will now be further investigated. The researchers report their findings in Nature

“These compounds are among the most important complexes used in modern organometallic chemistry,” says CRC 1573 speaker Prof. Peter Roesky (AOC, KIT); "we have now succeeded in forming nano-sized rings for the first time,” Prof. Manfred Kappes (IPC, KIT), and Prof. Florian Weigend (U Marburg) explain. The new nanoring, called ‘cyclocene’ by the researchers, consists of 18 building blocks and has an outer diameter of 3.8 nm. 

official KIT press release
Prof. Roesky (left) with the two guests Prof. Junk and Prof. Mashima (right) CRC 1573
CRC Mini-Symposium at AOC, KIT

On June 30, 2023, Professors Peter C. Junk (James Cook University, Townsville QLD, Australia) and Kazushi Mashima (Osaka University, Japan) visited us at KIT. They presented very interesting results to the CRC audience regarding recent developments in redox transmetallation chemistry involving RE metals and organosilicon compounds for salt-free reduction of metal compounds, respectively. 

 "Tag der offenen Tuer" at KIT 2023 KIT
"4f for Future" presents itself at KIT's Open Day

After a four-year break due to the pandemic, KIT was able to welcome 25,000 visitors again at its Open Day on June 17, 2023. Embedded in the framework of the EFFEKTE Science Festival, excellent science was presented to the public by guided tours, lectures, and lots of hands-on activities, also for children and young people. 

Our CRC presented itself and its activities in the framework of the KIT Center Materials in Technical and Life Sciences (MaTeLiS), and Dr. Tonya Vitova and her group participated with three spectroscopic experiments specifically addressing kids (cf. summary) with a lot of fun and enthusiasm. 

Dr. Sun
Dr. Xiaofei Sun received the Südwestmetall Award

Our IRTG manager Dr. Xiaofei Sun received the Südwestmetall Award for her thesis on the "Reactivity of low-valent group 14 species toward main group element, transition metal and lanthanide compounds" from the hands of Südwestmetall's chairman Dr. Joachim Schulz (right) in April 2023. The Baden-Württemberg employers' association of the metal and electrical industry honored the outstanding achievements of nine early-career researchers with particular significance for the industrial working world and its sociopolitical framework. 





Invited guest speakers of CRC 1573 at KITCRC 1573
Mini-Symposium on 4f-Elements

Professors Stephen T. Liddle (Head of Inorganic Chemistry, The University of Manchester/UK) and Grégory Nocton (CNRS, Laboratoire de Chimie Moléculaire, École polytechnique, Palaiseau/F) were invited guests of our CRC on April 25 & 26, 2023 at KIT, giving highly interesting presentations on "Recent Advances in Actinide Chemistry" and "Organo-f-Elements Complexes", respectively. The photo shows both speakers with their host Prof. Peter Roesky (from left to right). 



group photo of participants at KIT CRC 1573
Spring Seminar Days held at KIT

With more than 30 doctoral and post-doctoral researchers avidly participating, the first Spring Seminar Days of CRC 1573, chaired by project leaders Prof. Dr. Peter Roesky (KIT) and Prof. Dr. Florian Weigend (U Marburg), provided a very successful kick-off to the Integrated Research Training Group. 

CRC 1573 logo
CRC Spring Seminar Days 2023

This year's Spring Seminar Days for doctoral researchers in CRC 1573 will be held at KIT on March 20 & 21, 2023. Please find the tentative agenda here

FAIR4CHEM Award 2023 Laureates nfdi4chem
FAIR4Chem-Award 2023 for PI Lena Daumann

Our project leader Prof. Dr. Lena Daumann (Ludwig Maximilians-Universität München) received a FAIR4Chem Award 2023. The FAIR4Chem Award 2023 aims to encourage chemists to make their research data openly available to the chemical community according to FAIR principles. 

Group photo of CRC kick-off participants at KIT AOC, KIT
Kick-off Meeting at KIT

The kick-off meeting of CRC 1573 was held at KIT on January 23, 2023. 

Information on CRC 1573


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Participating Institutions

Logos of participating institutions


Der Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 1573 "4f for Future" befasst sich mit der Chemie molekularer und nanoskaliger Verbindungen der Seltenen Erden sowie ihren physikalischen Eigenschaften. 

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