Imperial College London

Dr Wilton-Ely

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Chemistry

Reader in Inorganic Chemistry



+44 (0)20 7594 9718j.wilton-ely Website




601bMolecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus





Dr James Wilton-Ely joined Imperial in 2009 after leading research groups at the University of Oxford and UCL. He holds the position of Reader (Associate Professor) in Inorganic Chemistry. He has extensive experience in coordination and organometallic chemistry of metals from groups 8-11 and their use in catalysis.

Current research focuses on topics as diverse as catalysis using recovered metals and the immobilisation of metal units on gold nanomaterials. These materials address applications in catalysis, bioimaging (targeted MRI contrast agents, PET radiotracers, fluorogenic CO detection) and sensing (carbon monoxide, heavy metals in water). Since 2012, the dissolution of biomass in ionic liquids and subsequent conversion into platform chemicals has become the focus of a joint programme with Prof. Jason Hallett (Imperial Chemical Engineering).

Further details of this research and other topics under investigation can be found on the group's website. The JW-E group has expanded in order to explore these projects and we are always interested to hear from prospective PDRA, PhD, MRes, MSci and BSc researchers (further details on the group website). We have been successful in supporting students applying to the CSC-Imperial, President's PhD Scholarship and Commonwealth Scholarship programmes and would like to hear from potential candidates. 

Dr Wilton-Ely is one of the Directors of the MRes Green Chemistry Programme and Founder and former Co-Director of the MRes in Catalysis and the MRes in Advanced Molecular Synthesis. After 4 years as the Director of MRes Studies in the Department of Chemistry, he is now the Director of Postgraduate Studies. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). Research Metrics. Publications: 100, h-index: 33.

Recent research highlights

Sensing in biological environments in Angewandte Chemie and JACS:

Simultaneous detection of carbon monoxide and viscosity changes in cells

Ex Vivo tracking of endogenous CO with a ruthenium(II) complex

Combined imaging and therapy (theranostics) in Chemistry - A European Journal:

Combined magnetic resonance imaging and photodynamic therapy using polyfunctionalised nanoparticles bearing robust gadolinium surface units

Transformation of biomass to platform chemicals (in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering):

Efficient formation of DFF in ionic liquids at high substrate loadings and low oxygen pressure with separation through sublimation

Recovery and re-use of metals from waste (in Green Chemistry): 

From recovered metal waste to high-performance palladium catalysts

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Al Ghatta A, Wilton-Ely J, Hallett J, 2021, From sugars to FDCA: A techno-economic assessment using a design concept based on solvent selection and carbon dioxide emissions, Green Chemistry, Vol:23, ISSN:1463-9262, Pages:1716-1733

García-Calvo J, Robson J, Torroba T, et al., 2019, Synthesis and application of ruthenium(II) alkenyl complexes with perylene fluorophores for the detection of toxic vapours and gases, Chemistry - A European Journal, Vol:25, ISSN:0947-6539, Pages:14214-14222

Al Ghatta A, Wilton-Ely J, Hallett J, 2019, Rapid, high‐yield fructose dehydration to HMF in mixtures of water and the non‐coordinating Ionic Liquid [bmim][OTf], Chemsuschem, Vol:12, ISSN:1864-5631, Pages:4452-4460

Al Ghatta A, Wilton-Ely JDET, Hallett JP, 2019, Strategies for the separation of the furanic compounds HMF, DFF, FFCA and FDCA from Ionic liquids, Acs Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, Vol:7, ISSN:2168-0485, Pages:16483-16492

Chabloz N, Wenzel M, Perry H, et al., 2019, Polyfunctionalised nanoparticles bearing robust gadolinium surface units for high relaxivity performance in MRI, Chemistry - A European Journal, Vol:25, ISSN:0947-6539, Pages:10895-10906

Anuar Jantan K, Chan KW, Melis L, et al., 2019, From recovered palladium to molecular and nanoscale catalysts, Acs Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, Vol:7, ISSN:2168-0485, Pages:12389-12398

Mognon L, Richardson S, Agonigi G, et al., 2019, Heterotrimetallic complexes of iron and ruthenium based on vinyliminium dithiocarboxylate ligands, Journal of Organometallic Chemistry, Vol:886, ISSN:0022-328X, Pages:9-12

Jantan KA, McArdle J, Mognon L, et al., 2019, Heteromultimetallic compounds based on polyfunctional carboxylate linkers, New Journal of Chemistry, Vol:43, ISSN:1144-0546, Pages:3199-3207

de la Torre C, Toscani A, Marin-Hernandez C, et al., 2017, Ex vivo tracking of endogenous CO with a ruthenium(II) complex, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol:139, ISSN:1520-5126, Pages:18484-18487

Wilton-Ely JD, white A, Jantan K, et al., 2017, From recovered metal waste to high-performance palladium catalysts, Green Chemistry, Vol:19, ISSN:1463-9262, Pages:5846-5853

Rasekh M, Ahmad Z, Cross R, et al., 2017, Facile Preparation of Drug-Loaded Tristearin Encapsulated Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles Using Coaxial Electrospray Processing, Molecular Pharmaceutics, Vol:14, ISSN:1543-8384, Pages:2010-2023

Robson JA, Gonzàlez de Rivera F, Jantan KA, et al., 2016, Bifunctional chalcogen linkers for the stepwise generation of multimetallic assemblies and functionalized nanoparticles, Inorganic Chemistry, Vol:55, ISSN:1520-510X, Pages:12982-12996

Moragues ME, Toscani A, Sancenon F, et al., 2014, A Chromo-fluorogenic synthetic "Canary" for CO detection based on a Pyrenylvinyl Ruthenium(II) complex, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol:136, ISSN:0002-7863, Pages:11930-11933

Cecchini MP, Turek VA, Demetriadou A, et al., 2014, Heavy Metal Sensing Using Self-Assembled Nanoparticles at a Liquid–Liquid Interface, Advanced Optical Materials

Naeem S, Serapian SA, Toscani A, et al., 2014, Ring-Closing Metathesis and Nanoparticle Formation Based on Diallyldithiocarbamate Complexes of Gold(I): Synthetic, Structural, and Computational Studies, Inorganic Chemistry, Vol:53, ISSN:0020-1669, Pages:2404-2416

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