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Rita Delgado Lab


The Coordination and Supramolecular Chemistry group designs, synthesizes and evaluates the properties of new molecules for the selective uptake of anions, neutral molecules or metal ions for environmental and medical applications.

Rita Delgado
Professor Associado com Agregação from IST, retired
PhD 1985 in Chemistry, IST-UTL

Phone (+351) 214469737
Extension 1737

Lab Website



Research Interests

Recognition of anionic substrates is a vigorous research field due to the important role of anions in biological, industrial, and environmental fields. In this area, the design, synthesis, and properties evaluation of molecular receptors for the selective binding of anions is crucial. Our laboratory has contributed with new molecules having well-defined three-dimensional cavities capable of accommodating and selectively binding anionic or neutral substrates in aqueous solution. The strength of the association of both partners is evaluated by the determination of the binding constant by spectroscopic or potentiometric techniques. The new molecules, which act as receptors, are used for the detection and removal of anions from biological and pollutants media, or separation of amino acids or chiral drugs. They should selectively encapsulate the substrate, forming supermolecules, with high binding affinity based on the best fit between the partners bound through several and cooperative weak interactions. The successful receptors, for which selectivity for a given substrate is achieved, are used for its detection or quantification in “real-life” samples. Small changes of the structure of such receptors can transform them in sensors and when attached to solid matrixes they can be used in chromatographic separations.

Another important area of interest in our laboratory deals with compounds capable of uptaking certain metal ions, forming chelates, and to hold them so strongly that they are not liberated in very adverse situations. These compounds (chelators) when bound to certain radioactive metal ions can be useful in medical applications, such as in diagnosis or in therapy of tumours. The chelates must be chemically stable under physiological conditions to avoid the release of toxic metal ions. Therefore such chelates should present high thermodynamic stability as well as strong kinetic inertness towards dissociation. Moreover, the chelators must be easily functionalized with chemical groups or conjugated to biomolecules with high affinity and selectivity for specific molecular targets. As a general rule, a potential radiopharmaceutical must be prepared in quick and mild conditions, and should be widely stable in physiological media and present good chemical properties to ensure an efficient clearance from the body. Our laboratory has developed and studied several new macrocyclic chelators some of them exhibiting very interesting properties for this field. These chelators can also be useful in the removal of toxic metal ions from the body or the environment.


Group Members

  • Catarina Esteves, PhD student
  • Luís Lima, post-Doc


Selected Publications

  1. Di- versus Trinuclear Copper(II) Cryptate for the Uptake of Dicarboxylate Anions, C. V. Esteves, P. Mateus, V. André, N. A. G. Bandeira, M. J. Calhorda, L. P. Ferreira, R. Delgado, Inorg. Chem., 2016, 55, 7051-7060. 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b00945

  2. Inhibition of the STAT3 Protein by a Dinuclear Macrocyclic Complex, L. M. Mesquita, F. Herrera, C. V. Esteves, P. Lamosa, V. André, P. Mateus, R. Delgado, Inorg. Chem., 2016, 55, 3589–3598. 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b00116

  3. Recognition of Oxalate by a Copper(II) Polyaza Macrobicyclic Complex, P. Mateus, R. Delgado, P. Brandão, V. Félix, Chem. Eur. J., 2011, 17, 7020 – 7031. 10.1002/chem.201100428


Laboratory's website

For further information please visit the laboratory's website 


Química de Coordenação e Supramolecular (PT)

No laboratório de Química de Coordenação e Supramolecular sintetizam-se novas moléculas que são usadas no reconhecimento de aniões ou outros substratos orgânicos ou inorgânicos. Salientam-se as moléculas com cavidades tridimensionais bem definidas onde se podem acomodar e fixar selectivamente aniões, ou até moléculas neutras, em solução aquosa. O objectivo deste trabalho é a detecção e remoção de aniões em meios biológicos ou poluentes, ou a separação de aminoácidos ou drogas quirais.

Também sintetizamos moléculas capazes de agarrar certos iões metálicos (formando quelatos) com uma força tal que não os largam quando atravessam meios muito competitivos. Os quelatos de iões metálicos radioactivos podem ser utilizados em meios diagnóstico ou mesmo em terapia de certos tumores. Os quelatos terão de ser quimicamente estáveis nos meios fisiológicos impedindo a libertação dos metais radioactivos, que são extremamente tóxicos. O nosso laboratório tem desenvolvido alguns agentes quelantes do tipo macrocíclico com propriedades interessantes para estas aplicações. Além disso, estes compostos podem também ser úteis na remoção de metais tóxicos de organismos vivos ou do ambiente.



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