Research Interests


Prof. Basset, who has authored more than 500 scientific papers and reports, works to evidence the possible relationships between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. For that purpose, he developed "Surface Organometallic Chemistry", a new field of chemistry that tries to answer various questions:

  • Are the concepts of the reactivity of molecular chemistry applicable when an organometallic molecule reacts with a surface?

  • Can the structures of molecular surface species be rationalized on the same basis as those of molecular species in solution?

  • Does the reactivity of surface organometallic fragments allow understanding the elementary steps of heterogeneous catalysis?

  • Can we make single site catalysts on a surface?

  • Can we render heterogeneous catalysis a predictable science?

  • Can we anticipate the discovery of new catalytic reactions?

This chemistry resulted in the discovery of a number of new catalytic reactions, such as the metathesis of alkanes which transforms any paraffin into its lower and higher homologues, the cleavage of paraffins by methane, the coupling of methane into ethane and hydrogen, the Ziegler-Natta depolymerisation which transforms polyethylene into diesel range gasoline, the transformation of ethylene to propylene, and the removal of traces of arsenic from water.

Selected Publications

Education Profile

  • Ph.D., University of Lyon, France, 1969
  • M.S., Physical Sciences, University of Lyon, France, 1965
  • Chemical Engineering, École Supérieure de Chimie Industrielle de Lyon (ESCIL), 1965

Professional Profile

  • 2009 - present : Director KAUST Catalysis Center (KAUST) Saudi Arabia
  • 1986–2010: Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Classe exceptionnelle
  • 1977–1983: Maître de Recherches, CNRS
  • 1971–1972: Chargé de Recherches, CNRS
  • 1970-1971: Associate Professor, University of Lyon
  • 1969-1970: Postdoctorate, University of Toronto

Scientific and Professional Memberships

  • Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • Member of the French Academy of Sciences 
  • Member of the French Academy of Technologies
  • Member of the European Academy of Sciences
  • Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts


  • Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2011
  • Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Xiamen, China, 2008
  • Doctor Honoris Causa, TUM, Germany, 2008
  • Augustine Award of the ORCS, USA,  2006
  • Distinguished Achievements Award of IMPI, USA, 2005
  • Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite, France, 2003

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​KAUST Catalysis Center (KCC)
  • ​Division of Physical Science and Engineering (PSE)