Didier Astruc was born in Versailles, studied at Rennes as an undergraduate, then prepared both a 3ème cycle thesis (1970) and a thèse d’Etat (1975) with Professor R. Dabard, and was a post-doctoral fellow at MIT with Professor R.R. Schrock (1977). After his 3ème cycle thesis, he was appointed as Assistant Professor (1970) to the University Institute for Technology of Saint-Nazaire, when this Institute was built, then became a young Master Lecturer there (1971). He moved back to Rennes where he was CNRS Chargé de Recherche (1978), then Maître de Recherche (1980). Didier Astruc was then appointed as a Full Professor at the University of Bordeaux I (1983) and was promoted to the exceptional class of University Professors in 1996. He spent a one-year sabbatical leave at the University of California at Berkeley with Professor K. Peter C. Vollhardt (1990-1).
He served as the President of the Coordination Chemistry Division of the Société Française de Chimie between 2002 and 2005 and a member of the National CNRS committee between 2000 and 2008.
At Bordeaux, Didier Astruc leads the group “Molecular Nanosciences and Catalysis”. Since the early 1980’s, he is well known for his concept of “Electron Reservoirs” and their applications to the stoichiometric and catalytic activation of small inorganic molecules (in particular O2 to superoxide O2- that has dramatic biomedical implications, and also C60 and nitrogen oxides) and the functionalisation of arenes by transition metals. Didier Astruc has initiated, at about the same time as Vögtle in Bonn, the first iteration sequences (1979). He therefore used the “Umpolung” principle for Fe-induced arene chemistry that led to molecular stars and dendrimer cores (1979) and later to the first organometallic dendrimers (1992) and their first use as sensors (1997). More recently, the group has initiated the chemistry of Au and Pd nanoparticles (in particular the first metal-nanoparticle-cored dendrimers in 2000), their applications to molecular electronics, molecular recognition (sensors for DNA fragments) and catalysis (green chemistry: use of water as a solvent, “homeopathic” catalysis). Studies of water-soluble, biocompatible nanomaterials for applications in selective drug delivery (in particular taxoter), sensing and catalysis (in particular by regioselective alkene metathesis and C-C bond formation reactions) have been recently developed or are in progress.
Didier Astruc obtained the Prize of the Coordination Chemistry Division of the Société Chimique de France in 1981, the Alexander von Humboldt Prize in 1989, the Le Bel Prize, “Grand Prix” of the French Chemical Society in 2000 and the Iberdrola Prize for Chemistry in 1999. He was also a Watt lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin (1993), one of the plenary lecturers at the XXth International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry (ICOMC) in Corfu (2002), and a Gauss Professor at the University of Göttingen (2008). He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Italian Chemical Society and the joint prize of the Italian and French Chemical Societies in 2009. He was the 3M lecturer at London, Ontario, in 2010, and in 2011 his name appeared in the Thompsom-Reuters list of the “100 top chemists” with the highest impact of papers published between 2000 and 2010.
Didier Astruc has been a Senior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) since 1995. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in 2005, at the Leopoldina Academy in 2006, the Academia Europaea in 2006 and the European Academy of Science in 2007. He is or has been a board member of Organometallics, New J. Chem., J. Inorg. Organomet. Polym., Current Chemistry Biology, The Open Cell and Development Biology Journal, and J. Organomet. Chem. A special issue of J. Inorg. Organomet. Polym. (Springer) and New J. Chem. have been dedicated to Didier Astruc in January 2008 and October 2011 respectively.
Ten of his former students are now Chemistry Professors or Academic Research Directors in France or the U.S.
Didier Astruc has published more than 380 publications that have received more than 18000 citations and given 360 research lectures at conferences and Universities or research centers in 25 countries including 60 in the U.S.
Didier Astruc is the author of two books: (i) “Electron-Transfer Processes in Transition Metal Chemistry” prefaced by 1993 Nobel Laureate Henry Taube (1995, VCH, 630 p.) and (ii) “Chimie Organométallique” (2000, EDP Science, Paris, 550 p.; Spanish version: 2004, Reverte, Barcelona; English version extended to catalysis: “Organometallic Chemistry and Catalysis”, Springer, Berlin, 2007.
Didier Astruc has edited four books: (i) Méthodes et Techniques de la Chimie Organique, PUG, Grenoble, 1999 (400 p.); (ii) Vol 2 (1000 p.) with J. Matay of the Handbook “Electron Transfer in Chemistry”, Chief Editor: V. Balzani, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2001, (iii) Modern Arene Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2002 (600 p.) and (iv) Nanoparticles and Catalysis (Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2007 (640 p) and several special issues of French journals: (i) Mechanisms and Processes in Molecular Chemistry (a double special issue of New J. Chem. dedicated to the memory of Bianca Tchoubar), Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1992 (330 p.), (ii) Dendrimers and Nanosciences, triple special issue of Comptes Rendus Chimie, 2003, 6, N° 8-10, Elsevier, Paris (500 p.), (iii) Nanoscience makes catalysis greener. V. Polshettiwar, J.-M. Basset, and D. Astruc (Eds.) 2012, 5.