Using Surface Chemistry to Explore Environmental, Catalytic, and Biomedical Applications of Porous Nanomaterials

Overview of Research Program

The Larsen Research Group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa (UI) focuses on the synthesis, characterization and applications of porous nanomaterials (mesoporous silica and zeolites). Our group has particular expertise in the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy for characterization and on applications in catalysis, environmental protection, and biomedicine.

Our Lab is located on the First Floor of the Chemistry Building at the University of Iowa.

We primarily work on interesting applications of mesoporous silicas and nanocrystalline zeolites, but are also involved in collaborative efforts in nanomaterials chemistry and application of magnetic resonance methods to research problems in surface and physical chemistry. We are particularly focused on applications in environmental, catalytic and biomedical areas. Current research in our lab focuses on adsorption of heavy metal contaminants, development of drug delivery vehicles, synthesis, and characterization of new materials with unique properties, as well as fundamental studies of nanoparticles in different environments.

In our group we commonly utilize a suite of methods for characterizing nanomaterials and investigating their properties including: Powder X-ray Diffraction (p-XRD), Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (ssNMR), Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR), Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES), Gas Adsorption Isotherms (BET), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), and Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), among others. Each technique is used in a complimentary manner to facilitate understanding of the relevant systems and their applications to modern day problems.

If you have any questions about our research or the group feel free to contact any group member!

Ongoing projects in the laboratory include:

Adsorption of hazardous compounds from water using mesoporous silica/iron oxide nanocomposites

Synthesis and characterization of nanocrystalline zeolites including mesoporous and germanium substituted zeolites

NMR studies of the solid-liquid interface (pKa measurements)

Experimental and theoretical studies of the loading and release of small drug molecules from zeolites and mesoporous silica

Development of composite functionalized materials for drug delivery and imaging



  • TEM image of Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

    TEM image of Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

  • TEM image of Germanium containing FAU

    TEM image of Germanium containing FAU

  • SEM image of Hollow Zeolite Shells

    SEM image of Hollow Zeolite Shells

  • Iron oxide mesoporous silica nanocomposite

    Iron oxide mesoporous silica nanocomposite

  • p-XRD patterns of FAUtype zeolites

    p-XRD patterns of FAUtype zeolites