Information for Researchers, No. 36 | May 5, 2021

Priority Programme „Light Controlled Reactivity of Metal Complexes“ (SPP 2102)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established the Priority Programme „Light Controlled Reactivity of Metal Complexes” (SPP 2102). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

The design of the potential energy landscape of electronically excited states in discrete metal complexes is of utmost importance for unveiling and exploiting the photophysics and photochemistry of this class of compounds. The Priority Programme aims at the development of rational design concepts for new functional photoactive metal complexes. At the core of the programme is the fundamental understanding of photoinduced metal-centred processes and the dynamics of electronically excited states of metal complexes, including:

  • development of molecular emitters and sensitizers based on abundant metals to replace rare and precious metal centres,
  • understanding and design of electronically excited states of metal complexes for potential applications in diagnostics, imaging, therapy, and molecule-based sensors,
  • development of conceptually new reactivity patterns of electronically excited metal complexes,
  • providing access to new substance classes based on highly reducing or oxidizing electronically excited metal complexes,
  • development of photoinduced multielectron and multiproton processes and
  • understanding of dynamic environmental effects on the excited state properties of metal complexes in soft matrices.

In order to have coherent and focused projects, the programme will deal exclusively with the photophysics and photochemistry of molecular complexes of 3d-5d and 4f-5f metal centres. Metal-free molecules, compounds of the s- and p-block metals, nanoparticles, quantum dots, metal-organic frameworks, coordination polymers, and solid-state materials are excluded. The metal centre or the metal centres of a well-defined, molecular and discrete complex should participate in the primary optical processes, such as excitation, emission, electron transfer or bond activation.

This excludes photoisomerisation in the ligand sphere as the primary photoreaction. Photoinduced valence isomerism, light-induced spin-crossover (LIESST) and organic photoswitches are not part of this programme. Furthermore, the development of new organic radical-based reactions and their substrate scope through the use of conventional photosensitisers such as [Ru(bpy)3]2+ or Ir(ppy)3 and slightly modified analogues and single-electron transfer will not be considered. However, new metal complex-based photosensitisers with uncommon properties such as particularly high/low redox potentials, intrinsic catalytic activity or chirality for enantioselective photoreactions will be covered in this Priority Programme.

Photochemical water splitting (water oxidation and reduction) is explicitly excluded. Development and optimisation of devices (such as dye-sensitized solar cells, light-emitting electrochemical cells, organic light-emitting diodes or sensors) is not the goal of this initiative. The programme will benefit from complementary new developments in the field of ultrafast spectroscopy (IR to X-ray energies) and from new theoretical developments. However, pure method development in those fields will not be a focus of this programme.

The formation of consortia of two to four principle investigators (PI) or research groups of complementary expertise and concentrating on a specific subject is strongly encouraged. At least one member of each proposed consortium should have already provided a significant work on light-induced processes in metal complexes. Each consortium should comprise research activities covering at least two of the three following topics:

  • synthesis and ground-state characterisation of new photoactive metal complexes,
  • spectroscopic investigations of excited state properties, especially using time-resolved methods(fs – ms, IR – X-ray),
  • theoretical investigations on excited state properties.

Connections to complementary and synergetic projects should be indicated in the grant proposals as well.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 30 June 2021. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 16 June 2021 to submit a proposal under this call. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2102 LCRMC” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). Please pay attention to recent changes in the application format compared to the first call of proposals in 2017. These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. In addition to submitting your proposal via elan, please send an electronic copy (pdf file) to the programme coordinator Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze.

For the scientific review of proposals, DFG may invite the applicants to present their projects to the review panel at a virtual colloquium scheduled for late September 2021.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be found at:

For scientific enquiries, please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Prof. Dr. Katja Heinze
    Department Chemie
    Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
    Fachbereich Chemie, Pharmazie und Geowissenschaften, Department Chemie
    Duesbergerweg 10–14
    55128 Mainz
    phone: +49 6131 39-25886

For questions related to the DFG review process, please contact:

For administrative questions regarding the DFG application, please contact: