Anna Larsen

Professor, Chemistry


Research in organometallic chemistry and ionic liquids

updated may 2022


In our lab, we are working in two main areas:

low-melting ionic compounds and organometallic chemistry of ruthenium-carborane complexes, which are united  by the theme of carbon-boron cluster anions(the cage-looking fragment on the figure to the right).

  • Carborane anions have a number of unique properties: on one hand, they are extremely inert, non -coordinating and stable.  On the other, they can be derivatized and tailored for specific applications (for example, to improve solubility or polarity).  Most modern homogeneous catalysts are based on cationic transition metal complexes, and thus follows the importance of the suitable anion that would not block the reactive metal center.  Carboranes are perfectly poised to address this issue.  We are currently working on developing catalytically active ruthenium-based cationic systems coupled with carborane anions. 
  • The second area of our research is centered on low-melting ionic compounds, also called ionic liquids. Ionic liquids have attracted much attention recently as possible environmentally benign alternative to the organic solvents used in various chemical technological processes. Our research project is concentrated on the synthesis and characterization of the new class of compounds: carborane-based imidazolium ionic liquids. In this reseach we are persuing two fundamental goals: synthesis of the new useful materials for the practical applications, as well as studying the fundamental structure-property relationship in terms of factors governing low-melting behavior of these materials. The flexibility on the carborane derivatization allows for systematic study of various combinations of anions and cations here.
  • The third most recent research project involves synthesis and reactivity studies of the potential catalysts based on rhodium pincer complexes. The goal is to develop a better catallyst for sterecontrolled alkyne dimerization.  This project is a collaboration with the research group of Professor Oleg Ozerov at Texas A& M.

All projects involve fair amount of real synthetic chemistry, sometimes with air-sensitive components (especially in the organometallic projects). We use extensively Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Infra-red and UV-vis spectroscopy methods, along with Differential Scanning Calorimetry(DSC) and X-ray crystallography.  We are fortunate to have external support from  major funding agencies, so with additional help of Ithaca College we were able to purchase several expensive pieces of instrumentation:  a new double-sized inert-atmosphere camera with a -40  C freezer, solvent purification system,  DSC/TGA instrument, and a single crystal X-ray diffractometer.   Check out our RESEARCH OVERVIEW POSTER  for more details about our research program and interests.

Our research group has a role for students of all levels, from freshmen to seniors. Many of our students have co-authored publications and have given presentations at regional or national conferences (see the list of publications and presentations here and read actual papers linked from this page).

Our current student research team includes : Max Klemes,  Joe Perkins and TBAs (June 2013)

Our updated Lab News  page can be found here.

Below is a partial list of the students who have been involved in the research in our lab at various stages, with graduation year and current place of employment (or study)

  1. Eric Leibensperger, 2005, (Ph.D.  in Atmospheric Chemistry/Physics   in Harvard), 
  2. Jesse Kleingardner, 2006,  (Ph.D.  in Chemistry , University of Rochester), 
  3. Matt Pearsall, 2006  (employed in Vertex, Inc.- pharmaceuticals, in Cambridge MA), 
  4. Joseph Livingston, 2006, ( M.D./Ph.D. U of Syracuse Medical School), 
  5. Katrina Brown, 2008, Lab Assistant, Nebraska, Lincoln
  6. Semeret Munie, 2008 (Medical School, U of Vermont) - 2013 Residency in Detroit
  7. Matt Sprague, 2005 (Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry  at CalTech), 
  8. Ryan Wibby, 2007(assistant brewer in Amish Country, PA - and as of spring '09 here in Ithaca Brewery)
  9. Nathan Kozlowsky, 2006 ,
  10. Meredith Cummins, 2005 (E2E - clean technology company, Ithaca NY) 
  11. KelLee Rich, 2008 (Ophtalmology School in Indiana)
  12. Jason Diaz, 2009 (Virology Ph.D. program in U Penn) 
  13. Josh Masland, 2006
  14. Phil Byers, 2008 (Chemistry Ph.D. program in Florida State)
  15. Jason Diaz, 2009 (Ph.D. program in virology, U Penn)
  16. Shawn Eady, 2010 , Ph.D. in chemistry, U Mich
  17. John Dymon, 2010, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, University of Utah
  18. Shane Galley, 2013, Ph.D. in Chemistry, Florida State U
  19. Lars Soderstrom, 2013, Chemical Engineering Graduate Program, University of Rochester

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