Marcella Lusardi

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Princeton Materials Institute
Office Phone
A211 Engineering Quad

Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering, MIT, 2018

B.S. Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, 2012



  • Faculty, Princeton Materials Institute

Research Interests

Our group’s research centers on molecular-scale materials design to address pressing challenges in sustainable chemistry, with a primary focus in catalytic and adsorption applications. Synthetic methods to prepare these materials largely involve tuning coarse-grained parameters (e.g., concentration, temperature), often resulting in structures with poorly controlled distributions of molecular architectures. Since these architectures dictate the physicochemical and optoelectronic properties that govern performance in a given application, controlling them is paramount.  To achieve this control, our work takes a molecular-scale approach to materials synthesis. By manipulating molecular precursors and their interactions early in the synthetic process (i.e., prior to nucleation), we can introduce new control parameters that influence the assembly of building units across length scales, and address a key bottleneck – the synthesis-structure component – in the iterative synthesis-structure-function elucidation process that guides rational materials design.

This approach enables us to develop the fundamentally new, multifunctional materials required to solve critical sustainability problems, ranging from CO2 capture and conversion to nanoplastic removal from water systems to green pharmaceutical synthesis. To satisfy the complex design criteria mandated by these diverse application domains, we work with equally diverse classes of materials to achieve the required flexibility in physicochemical and optoelectronic properties, including organic nanomaterials, nanostructured metals/metal oxides, molecular sieves, and quantum dots. Our efforts in synthesis are complemented by a wealth of advanced spectroscopic techniques, in addition to scattering and microscopy methods, and coupled with catalytic and surface studies in diverse reaction environments. In this way, we not only gain insight into the required molecular structures for effective catalysis/photocatalysis/etc., but also outline pathways to engineering them in practice.

Selected Publications
  1. M. Lusardi, T. T. Chen, M. Kale, J. H. Kang, M. Neurock, M. E. Davis. “Carbonylation of Dimethyl Ether to Methyl Acetate over SSZ-13.” ACS Catalysis 2020, 10, 842.
  2. M. Peer,ǂ M. Lusardi,ǂ K. F. Jensen. “Facile Soft-Templated Synthesis of High-Surface Area and Highly Porous Carbon Nitrides.” Chemistry of Materials 2017, 29, 1496. ǂequal contributions
  3. M. Lusardi and M. E. Davis. “Sulfonic Acid-Functionalized Zeolite Beta: Bronsted Acid Catalysts for Reactions Involving Liquid Water.” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2021, 9, 17120.