Approaching dangerously the ENZYMES…

Dr. Juan Mangas-Sanchez, visited us and gave an interesting talk about New enzymes for the preparation of amines. Discovery, directed evolution and synthetic applications.

Juan is currently working as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, integrated in Turner Lab. He will be incorporated at ISQCH very soon, after being appointed as an ARAID researcher. Then, Juan will be an HOCA member and we will work together with Gimenos’s Group, looking for convergence, synergies and much more, between ORGANOCATALYSIS, BIOCATALYSIS and METAL CATALYSIS.

Thank you for your visit and welcome to Zaragoza!!


Maru, Juan, Raquel and Conchita (Faculty of Science, UZ – 23/02/2020).

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First fruit of a very interesting collaboration…

… with Dr. Santiago Uriel.

Thank you and congratulations!

Simple iodoalkyne-based organocatalysts for the activation of carbonyl compounds, Alegre-Requena, J. V.; Valero-Tena, A.; Sonsona, I. G.; Uriel, S.; Herrera, R. P. Org. Biomol. Chem. 2020, DOI: 10.1039/c9ob02688f

Abstract. A novel approach for the formation of bisindolylmethane derivatives (BIMs) is described as a proof of concept to evaluate the catalytic capacity of iodoalkynes. The use of these derivatives is reported as an example of simple halogen bond-based organocatalyst. This kind of activation has not been used before for the synthesis of bisindolylmethane derivatives 3. Interestingly, the preparation of 3-(1H-indol-3-yl)-1-phenylbutan-1-one (8) has been also achieved for the first time with an iodoalkyne derivative. We prove the efficiency of this family of new catalysts by developing a simple and easy operational methodology, opening the door to the development of alternative catalysts in the area of halogen bond-based organocatalysts.

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Hot paper Chem. Eur. J. – Congratulations!

Thiolate Bridged Gold(I)–NHC Catalysts: New Approach for Catalyst Design and its Application to Trapping Catalytic Intermediates

Renso Visbal, Raquel P. Herrera* and M. Concepción Gimeno*

Chem. Eur. J. 2019, 25, 15837–15845.

More info (in Spanish).

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Santa Claus is coming to HOCA town!

We said hello to Christmas and goodbye to Manel and Athar.

Thank you for coming to work with us. Safe trip back home and good luck!

Merry Christmas everyone!



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Drugs: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

True to its commitment to scientific dissemination, last week, Raquel told to a general public, both, adults (December 12): Ámbito cultural (El Corte Inglés), and young people (December 13): IES Goya (Zaragoza), about the different properties that can show the two enantiomers of drugs containing quaternary carbons.

Everybody enjoyed once more the Raquel’s natural communicative skills!




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Anabel got her PhD!

Last November 29, Anabel Izaga presented her PhD thesis: “Study of the synergistic effect between metal complexes and organocatalysts”. A very emotive defense…

This work has been supervised by Dr. Herrera and Prof. Gimeno.


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Metals… more and more present in the HOCA group, SOS!

Last week (14-15 November 2019), Raquel attended to the 1st International Workshop on Metals in Medicine hold at Chimie ParisTech, PSL University.

She presented the poster entitle Synthesis of group 11 metal complexes with thiourea or squaramide ligands: study of their biological properties. Raquel P. Herrera,  Anabel Izaga, Daniel Salvador-Gil, M. Lourdes Ortego, and M. Concepción Gimeno.

For sure, she learned a lot and together with a few friends and colleagues, they enjoyed the wonderful city of Paris!



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Isaac, we will miss you a lot!

Isaac is now in Bologna (Dipartimento di Chimica industriale “Toso Montanari”, Università di Bologna) as a postdoctoral researcher, working with Dr. Luca Bernardi.

Last week, we said goodbye to him having a drink and laughing with his jokes!

Enjoy and learn a lot!!!

Un bacio, caro 😉

Manel, Fanny, Isaac, Esther, Sara, Sandra, Maru, Fernando, Raquel, Athar, Guillermo


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A little tribute to (THIO)UREAS. Improving their organocatalytic activity…

Hydrogen bonding and Internal or External Lewis or Brønsted Acid Assisted (Thio)urea Catalysts, Gimeno, M. C.; Herrera, R. P. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 10.1002/ejoc.201901344

Abstract. The obtainment of more active organocatalysts has promoted the search for new modes of activation and new organocatalytic systems. Inspired on the mode of activation of enzymes, organocatalysis has recently focused on the challenge to create an enzyme-like ‘active site’ giving access to hydrogen bond donors (HBDs) with enhanced activity. Therefore, the assembly of catalytic species, connected through multiple weak inter- or intramolecular interactions, is a young and emerging topic of research which could become in the future a powerful tool for asymmetric catalysis. In the area of (thio)ureas, different alternatives such as internal hydrogen bonds or the use of an internal or an external Lewis or Brønsted acid assisted catalysts have been developed. The pivotal publications recently reported covering this family of organocatalysts are proof of this importance. This review treats to illustrate these important and scarce examples and to show a plausible mode of activation for each one.

Keywords. Activation, Brønsted acid, Lewis acid, Organocatalyst, (thio)urea

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The results of a new collaboration with University of Gabes

Synthesis, structural determination and catalytic study of a new 2-D chloro-substituted zinc phosphate, (C8N2H20)[ZnCl(PO3(OH))]2, Rayes, A.; Herrera, R. P.; Moncer, M.; Ara, I.; Calestani, G.; Ayed, B.; Mezzadri, F. J. Mol. Struct. 2019,

Abstract. A novel chloro-substituted zinc-phosphate, (C8N2H20)[ZnCl(PO3(OH)]2, has been synthesized by a slow evaporation method in the presence of 1,3-cyclohexanebis- (methylamine), which acts as a template. The structure consists of vertex linked ZnO3Cl and PO3(OH) tetrahedral, assembled into corrugated porous layers [ZnCl(PO3(OH))2] with (4.82) topology. The optical properties were also investigated using Diffuse Reflecting Spectroscopy (DRS), showing that the title compound has semiconducting properties. In addition, the catalytic activity of (C8N2H20)[ZnCl(PO3(OH))]2 has been tested in the acetalisation reaction of aldehydes. The title compound displayed a high catalytic activity with practically total conversion in many examples using MeOD as solvent and as the sole source of acetalisation. More importantly, the reaction crudes are very clean and only the preferred products are found in the NMR spectra.


Zinc-phosphate, Open framework structure, Chloride-substitution, X-ray diffraction, Spectroscopic techniques, Catalytic activity
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