Science is Beautiful

Dr. Olivier Maury

  • CNRS research director
  • ENS Lyon
  • Laboratoire de chimie
  • Functionnal and photonic material axis
  • Tel: +(33) 472728672
  • Email :
  • ORCID ID :

"Large team 2019"

from right to left Janah Saya, Sylvain David, Olivier Maury, Maher Hojorat, Francois Riobé, Amandine Roux, Isis N’Dala Louka, Laura Abad-Gallan, Margaux Roux.


Olivier Maury was graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris in 1993 and obtained a master degree in inorganic and physical-chemistry. He completed his PhD in 1997 under the supervision of M. Ephritikhine (CEA Saclay) on low-valent uranium organometallic chemistry. After a postdoctoral position with J.-M. Basset (CPE-Lyon) in organometallic supported catalysis (alkane metathesis), he got a CNRS position as Chargé de Recherche in 1999 at the University of Rennes in the group of H. Le Bozec where he started exploring the nonlinear optical properties of lanthanide complexes.
In 2004 he moved to the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Lyon in the team of C. Andraud. His current research interests concern the design of lanthanides containing molecular materials and NIR chromophores with optimized spectroscopic properties (luminescence and nonlinear optics) towards optical limiting purposes, biological imaging and photodynamic therapy applications.A more recent collaborative research project concerns the design a lanthanide complexes called crystallophore as multifunctional additive for for protein crystallization and X-ray structure determination. In 2017, he founded with François Riobé, Eric Girard, Sylvain Engliberge and Christian Chapelle, the polyvalan company to commercialize the products developed in the Lab.
A more detailed CV is available here: (lien vers un fichier Pdf)

Research topics

Lanthanide complexes for nonlinear optics

Since 2004, the group developped an original approach to investigate the behavior of lanthanide molecular complexes under high power fs-pulsed laser irradiation, ie. to explore the nonlinear optical (NLO) properties...

In non-resonant conditions, second order NLO phenomena are observed like second harmonic generation and their efficiency was found to be directly correlated f-orbital filling and not to the ionic radius (JACS, 2005, 127, 13474, 10269). As a consequence, the f-electrons appear to be highly polarizable and extremely sensitive to their immediate surrounding (JACS, 2008, 130, 2180). In resonant conditions, the lanthanide emission can be sensitized by two-photon antenna effect, a third order NLO phenomena (Inorg. Chem. 2008, 47, 10269) and the group pioneered the design of two-photon lanthanide bioprobes for nonlinear microscopy imaging during the last decade (JACS, 2008, 130, 1532). This topic was reviewed in two articles:

Lanthanide Complexes for Nonlinear Optics: from Fundamental Aspects to Applications. C. Andraud, O. Maury Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2009, 4357.

Two-photon Absorption of Lanthanide Complexes: from Fundamental Aspects to Biphotonic Imaging Applications A. D’Aléo, C. Andraud, O Maury, in “Luminescence of Lanthanide Ions in Coordination Compounds and Nanomaterials” Ed. By A. De Bettencourt-Diaz, Wiley 2014, chapt.5 197-226.

Ultrabright lanthanide luminescent bioprobes.

The consequence of the previous NLO studies was the discovery that charge transfer antenna were able to sensitize very efficiently lanthanide emitters (Inorg. Chem. 2008, 22, 10258) towards the design of ultrabright luminescent bioprobes...

This approach lead to the design of the brightest europium, samarium, terbium, dysprosium derivatives using triazacyclononane macrocycles enabling cells imaging experiments with an improved contrast (Chem. Commun. 2013, 49, 1600 & Chem. Eur. J., 2018, 24, 3408) . We also developed NIR-to-NIR bioimaging experiments with optimized ytterbium emitters and a home-made two-photon microscope developed in collaboration with Dr. Sophie Brasselet (Mosaic team, Fresnel Institute, Marseille). In collaboration with the group of Prof. Raphael Tripier (CEMCA team, Univ. Brest), we explored the role of the macrocyclic scaffold and discovered the exceptional properties of pyclen based complexes for cells but also small animal model bioimaging experiments (JACS 2020, 142, 10184). ChemRxiv.

Fundamental lanthanide spectroscopy.

We acquired a solid expertise in lanthanide luminescence measurements in liquid/solid, visible/NIR and at low temperature (down to 4K) and are open to external collaborations in the following fields:
Solving the Van Vleck puzzle.
Organometallic Luminescence.
Luminescence switching.
Circularly Polarized Luminescence...

Solving the Van Vleck puzzle. In 1937, Van Vleck established that the lanthanide magnetic and luminescent properties are intimately correlated via the crystal-(ligand-) field splitting (CFS). Since 2010, we and other groups revisited this assumption thanks to high resolution low temperature luminescent measurements. Many luminescent SMM are now described mainly with Yb and Dy complex, but the precise establishment of the energy diagram thanks to luminescence, magnetism and theory remains still challenging. Our group collaborates with many teams involved in the field of magnetism to establish this correlation. Our main partnership involves the Rennes Chemistry Institute (Dr. Boris Le Guennic, Dr. Fabrice Pointillart, Prof. Olivier Cador,Acc. Chem. Res. 2015, 48, 2834)but many other French or international collaborations have been established (e.g. G. Pilet, D. Luneau, R. Vicente, H. Takalo, J.C.G. Bünzli, D. Parker…). Organometallic Luminescence. We also developed tricky luminescence measurements under inert atmosphere for highly sensitive organometallic complexes. In collaboration with Dr. Gregory Nocton (Ecole Polytechnique, Saclay), we described very unusual luminescence properties of divalent lanthanide complexes like ytterbium or thullium(II) derivatives (Inorg. Chem. 2019, 58, 2872). Luminescence switching. In collaboration with Prof. Stephane Rigaut and Dr. Lucie Norel, we studied the modulation of the lanthanide luminescence via redox or light stimuli and we recently described one of the rare example of NIR switch (JACS 2019, 141, 20026).

Crystallophore, a new revolution in protein crystallography ?

For one decade we have been involved in the design of new lanthanide based additive for protein crystallography, with the triple objective to improve the (i) the production of protein crystal (the complex acting as a supramolecular glue), (ii) the resolution of the protein structure thanks to the intrinsic f-element anomalous scattering properties and (iii) to image protein micro-crystals using the f-element luminescent properties. In 2017, in collaboration with the group of Dr. Eric Girard, (Elma team, IBS, Grenoble) we patented and reported the crystallophore, a unique macrocyclic complex that solves simultaneously the three above mentioned issues (Chem. Science. 2017, 8, 5909). This compound and the next generations are commercialized by the Polyvalan company...

The crystallophore assists the resolution of more than 20 protein structures in three years. We explored its action mechanism thanks to a combination of NMR, DLS experiments combined with QM/MM theoretical calculations in collaboration with Prof. Elise Dumont (ENS Lyon). Actually, we are developing new structures to specifically target membrane proteins and to efficiently image micro-crystals.

Triplet population and storage: how to take benefit of back transfer for singlet oxygen generation and other applications.

The sensitization of triplet state is generally considered as a non-radiative desexcitation pathway detrimental to the optimization of the luminescence brightness, but this long lived state can be very useful for many other applications. It can be detected directly by low temperature phosphorescence in deoxygenated condition or indirectly by the detection of singlet oxygen...

Triplet state population

We deeply investigated new original pathway to improve the population of the triplet state. In collaboration with Dr. Cyrille Monnereau and Dr. Tangui Le Bahers, we discovered that the dynamic molecular motions like the torsion of the conjugated skeleton strongly enhanced the inter-system crossing (ISC) step leading to more straightforward triplet state population. The mechanism was investigated by high level DFT calculation using molecular system prepared in the lab or studied in collaboration. In this context, we recently investigated an original BTXI family in collaboration with Dr. Clément Cabanetos (Univ. Angers) and evidenced many original ISC improvements (torsion, but also dimerization). (PCCP 2020, 22, 12373). also available at

Singlet oxygen generation towards theranostic probes

We also take benefit of heavy atom effect (or paramagnetic effect) of non-emissive f-elements like gadolinium and designed original probes with improved singlet oxygen generation (up to 80%). The above mentioned torsion effect also strongly contributed to this result. This complex was ten successfully involve in photodynamic therapy experiment on human breast cancer cells in collaboration with Dr. Magali Gary-Bobo (Univ. Montpellier). In the framework of the ANR SADAM project, we now focus our attention in the design of theranostic probes combining MRI and PDT in collaboration with Prof. Raphael Tripier (Uni. Brest).

NIR dyes, polymethine and azabodipy.

NIR dyes are the new Eldorado for bioimaging and other photonic applications. Beside the NIR emitting f-elements (Yb, Nd, Sm, Dy, Er) organic dyes show also promising photophysical properties. In the group, we chose to focus our interest in two different classes of NIR dyes featuring an odd number of atoms in their conjugated skeleton namely, polymethine and cyanine...

Fundamental linear and nonlinear photophysical properties of polymethine : crossing the cyanine limit.

Since the 70’s, the “cyanine state” describe a particular electronic structure where the charge is equally distributed over the whole conjugated backbone leading to zero bond length alternation. This state is supposed to correspond to the most red-shifted photophysical properties. During the last decade, we and other extensively studied the nonlinear absorption of this particular state (PCCP 2012 ,14, 15299) and demonstrated that is possible to finely control the electronic distribution either by ion pairing effect (JACS 2010, 132, 4328) of by substitution at the central position (J. Phys. Chem. A 2014, 118, 4038).

Application in bioimaging.

During the course of our fundamental studies, we found out two particular polymethine structures featuring exceptional potential for bioimaging applications in the NIR, the keto- and amino-heptamethine. These two molecules were adapted to the biological requirements (Chem Science 2017, 8, 381) and can also be bioconjugated to target a specific issue (Bioconjugated Chem. 2019, 30, 1649).

Design of NIR azabodipy for NLO optical power limiting applications.

For photo- and chemical stability issue we also investigate azabodipy dyes and developed highly conjugated systems featuring improved nonlinear properties in the NIR and particularly at telecommunication wavelengths (1500 nm). This system is also able to behave as optical power limiting system in solution and in sol-gel matrice. It is actually the only solid state optical limiting system in the SWIR described in the literature (J. Phys. Chem. C. 2019, 123, 23661)These researches are performed in collaboration with the THALES company and the French Army.


A PDF version of the group full publication list can be downloaded here (lien vers un pdf)
For an updated publication list please access Dr. Maury Google Scholar web page

Selected publications

Pyclen based Ln(III) complexes as highly luminescent bioprobes for in vitro and in vivo 1P and 2P bioimaging applications. N. Hamon, A. Roux-Gossart, M. Beyler, J.-C. Mulatier, C. Nguyen, M. Maynadier, N. Bettache, A. Duperray, A. Grichine, S. Brasselet, M. Gary-Bobo, O. Maury, R. Tripier J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 10184-10197.

Luminescence-Driven Electronic Structure Determination in a Textbook Dimeric Dy(III)-based Single Molecule Magnet. D. Guettas, F. Gendron, G. Fernandez Garcia, F. Riobé, T. Roisnel, O. Maury,* G. Pilet,* O. Cador,* B. Le Guennic* Chem. Eur. J. 2020, 26, 4389-4395.
open source

Crystallophore, a multi-functionnal tool for protein crystallography combining nucleant effect, phasing properties and luminescence. S. Engilberge, F. Riobé, S. Di Pietro, L. Lassalle, N. Coquelle, C. Arnaud, D. Madern, C. Breyton, O. Maury,* E. Girard*. Chem. Science. 2017, 8, 5909-5917.
doi:10.1039/C7SC00758B(open source)

Unraveling the Two-Photon and Excited State Absorptions of Aza-BODIPY Dyes for Optical Power Limiting in the SWIR band. S. Pascal, Q. Bellier, S. David, P.-A. Bouit, S.-H. Chi, N. S. Makarov, B. Le Guennic, S. Chibani, G. Berginc, P. Feneyrou, D. Jacquemin,*,| J. W. Perry, O. Maury,* C. Andraud* J. Phys. Chem. C. 2019, 123, 23661−23673

Granted Projects

The research of the group is supported by many academic institutions or private companies. We really thank them for their precious confidence.

Ongoing projects.





2019-2021 CrystFrag C.Chapelle
2019-2023 ILab C.Chapelle
2019-2023 SMMCPL B. Le Guennic
2018-2020 PycPicLum R. Tripier
2018-2021 Xo4-2.0 E. Girard
2018-2021 Eco-Phos O. Maury
2017-2020 SADAM R. Tripier

Achieved projects.





2017 Polyvalan C.Chapelle
2018-2020 Xo4 O. Maury
2016-2017 Tb-TWIST O. Maury
2016-2017 Soft Phosphores F. Riobé
2016-2018 NIR optical limitation C. Andraud
2015-2018 Redivalan G. Nocton
2015 PROTEINE4 O. Maury
2013-2017 SCOSIMLIGHT F. Pointillart
2013-2017 Ln23 O. Maury

Job opportunities

Information for Master Students.

Every year, we have several opportunities for Master internships projects (M1 or M2). With a background in Chemistry, Chemical-Physics or Spectroscopy or Chemical Biology you may apply for a research internship in the group. A good practice of English is mandatory.
Please contact us by sending your complete application (CV, letter of motivation and eventually the name of two referees).

For PhD Students and Post-Docs

All available PhD and post-docs grants are listed below. In any other cases, PhD Students and Post-Docs interested in pursuing their research in our group can apply with their own funding, or can contact us to apply for personal grant.
We apologize but we cannot reply to all mass-email-applications.

Group members

"Large team 2019"

from right to left Janah Saya, Sylvain David, Olivier Maury, Maher Hojorat, François Riobé, Amandine Roux, Isis N’Dala Louka, Laura Abad-Gallan, Margaux Roux.

"Cats 2016"

from right to left (top) Cristina Balogh, Margaux Galland, Olivier Maury, Seastiano Di Pietro, (bottom) Anh Thy Bui, François Riobé, Mustapha Allali.

"Maury Boys 2009"

from right to left Mickael Normand, Adrien Bourdolle, Sarah Pegaz, Quentin Bellier, Thibaut Gallavardin, Olivier Maury.

"Dream team 2006"

from right to left Alexandre Picot, Floriane Malvolti, Pierre-Antoine Bouit, Anthony D’Aléo, Olivier Maury