Davide Lionetti Assistant Professor of Chemistry


B. S.  in Chemistry (Minor in Medieval Studies), University of Notre Dame. Research under Dr. Seth Brown

Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry, California Institute of Technology. Research under Dr. Theodor Agapie

Postdoctoral researcher, University of Kansas. Research under Dr. James Blakemore


Our group carries out research in inorganic and organometallic chemistry to address broad scientific challenges in today’s world. From the activation of small molecules relevant to energy storage and utilization to the efficient conversion of abundant chemical feedstocks, compounds containing transition metals have found applications as catalysts (compounds that increase the rate of chemical reactions) for a broad variety of chemical transformations. In our group, we design transition metal complexes–compounds in which organic molecules (called ligands) support transition metal atoms, enabling and sometimes directly participating in their reactivity–as candidate catalysts for various reactions, and study their properties and reactivity using tools typical of the inorganic chemistry toolbox, including spectroscopy and electrochemistry. Two of our current projects focus on compounds containing rhodium, a metal with well-known catalytic properties. In one of these projects, we are aiming to develop complexes that replicate rhodium’s ability to make and/or break chemical bonds by undergoing two-electron changes in oxidation state with cheaper, more abundant metals. The second project takes a complementary approach, aiming to improve the activity of known rhodium catalysts and limit the excess energy required to operate them, thereby enhancing their efficiency and lowering the amount of these catalysts that is required for various applications. A third project focuses on a family of catalysts based on ruthenium–rhodium’s neighbor on the periodic table. In this project, we are employing electrochemical methods to explore the behavior of ruthenium compounds and determine the correlation between the structure of the supporting ligands and the ability of ruthenium to transfer electrons. All these projects rely on critical contributions from F&M undergraduate students, who participate in the design, synthesis, and characterization of the target complexes and the studies of their reactivity via spectroscopic and electrochemical methods. Through this work, students in our group develop fundamental skills in carrying out manipulations typical of the inorganic laboratory, including the use of air-free techniques, in obtaining and analyzing data from various instrumental techniques, in exploring the primary literature, and in presenting their work to their peers and to the broader scientific community in written and oral forms.

Grants & Awards

At Franklin & Marshall College:

American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Undergraduate New Investigator Grant

Prior to Franklin & Marshall College:

Sustainability Leadership Award for Staff Scholarship, University of Kansas

Resnick Sustainability Institute Graduate Fellowship, California Institute of Technology


Prior to F&M

Davide Lionetti, Sandy Suseno, Angela A. Shiau, Graham de Ruiter, and Theodor Agapie “Redox Processes Involving Oxygen: The Surprising Influence of Redox-Inactive Lewis Acids” JACS Au, 2024, in print. DOI: 10.1021/jacsau.3c00675

Emily A. Boyd, Julie A. Hopkins Leseberg, Emma L. Cosner, Davide Lionetti, Wade C. Henke, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Remote Oxidative Activation of a [Cp*Rh] Monohydride” Chem. – Eur. J. 2022, 28, e202104389. DOI: 10.1002/chem.202104389 

Julie A. Hopkins Leseberg, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Electrochemical Kinetic Study of [Cp*Rh] Complexes Supported by Bis(2-pyridyl)methane Ligands.” Organometallics, 2021, 40, 266. DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.0c00747 

Julie A. Hopkins,†, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Synthesis and Reactivity Studies of a [Cp*Rh] Complex Supported by a Methylene-Bridged Hybrid Phosphine-Imine Ligand.” J. Organomet. Chem., 2020, 921, 121294. DOI: 10.1016/j.jorganchem.2020.121294

Amit Kumar, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Redox-Inactive Metal Cations Modulate the Reduction Potential of the Uranyl Ion in Macrocyclic Complexes.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2020, 142, 3032-3041. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b11903

Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Structural and Chemical Properties of Half-Sandwich Rhodium Complexes Supported by the Bis(2-pyridyl)methane Ligand.” Dalton Trans., 2019, 48, 12396-12406. DOI: 10.1039/C9DT01821B

Jared L. Barr, Amit Kumar, Davide Lionetti, Carlos A. Cruz, and James D. Blakemore “Electrochemical Studies, and Catalytic Ethylene Polymerization with Heterobimetallic [Ti,Al] Species” Organometallics, 2019, 39, 2150-2155. DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.9b00140

Julie A. Hopkins, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Chemical and Electrochemical Properties of [Cp*Rh] Complexes Supported by a Hybrid Phosphine-Imine Ligand.” Organometallics 2019, 38, 1300-1310. DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.8b00551

Emily A. Boyd, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Preparation, Characterization, and Electrochemical Activation of a Model [Cp*Rh] Hydride.” Inorg. Chem. 2019, 58, 3606-3615. DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.8b02160

Davide Lionetti, Sandy Suseno, Emily Y. Tsui, Luo Lu, Troy A. Stich, Kurtis M. Carsch, Robert J. Nielsen, William A. Goddard, III, R. David Britt, and Theodor Agapie “Effects of Redox-Inactive Metals on Oxygen-Atom Transfer Reactivity of Heterotetrametallic Mn3 and Fe3 Clusters.” Inorg. Chem., 2019, 58, 2336-2345. DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.8b02701

William N. G. Moore, Wade C. Henke, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Single–Electron Redox Chemistry on the [Cp*Rh] Platform Enabled by a Nitrated Bipyridine Ligand.” Molecules, 2018, 23, 2857-2874. DOI: 10.3390/molecules23112857

Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, Benedikt Lassalle-Kaiser James D. Blakemore “Multiple Binding Modes of an Unconjugated Bis(pyridine) Ligand Stabilize Low-Valent [Cp*Rh] Complexes.” Chem. Commun., 2018, 54, 1694-1697. DOI: 10.1039/C7CC09164H

Amit Kumar, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Trivalent Lewis Acidic Cations Govern the Stability and Electronics of Heterobimetallic Complexes.” Chem. – Eur. J., 2018, 24, 141-149. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201704006

Wade C. Henke, Davide Lionetti, William N. G. Moore, Julie A. Hopkins,†,§ Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Ligand Substituents Govern the Efficiency and Mechanistic Path of Hydrogen Production with [Cp*Rh] Catalysts.” ChemSusChem, 2017, 10, 4589. DOI: 10.1002/cssc.201701416

Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Noncovalent Immobilization of Molecular Lanthanide Complexes on Carbon Electrodes.” Dalton Trans., 2017, 46, 11779-11789. DOI: 10.1039/C7DT02577G

Yun Peng, Mario V. Ramos-Garcés, Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Structural and Electrochemical Consequences of [Cp*] Ligand Protonation.” Inorg. Chem. 2017, 56, 10824-10831. DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.7b01895

Davide Lionetti, Victor W. Day, and James D. Blakemore “Synthesis and Electrochemical Properties of Half-Sandwich Rhodium and Iridium Methyl Complexes.” Organometallics, 2017, 36, 1897-1905. DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.7b00136

Davide Lionetti, Graham deRuiter, and Theodor Agapie “A Trans-Hyponitrite Intermediate in the Reductive Coupling and Deoxygenation of Nitric Oxide by a Tricopper–Lewis Acid Complex.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138, 5008-5011. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b01083

Graham deRuiter, Niklas B. Thompson, Davide Lionetti, and Theodor Agapie “Nitric Oxide Activation by Distal Redox Modulation in Tetranuclear Iron Nitrosyl Complexes.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2015, 137, 14094-14106. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b07397

Davide Lionetti and Theodor Agapie “How Calcium Affects Oxygen Formation.” Nature, 2014, 513, 495-496. DOI: 10.1038/nature13753

David E. Herbert, Davide Lionetti, Jonathan Rittle and Theodor Agapie “Heterometallic Triiron-Oxo/Hydroxo Clusters: Effect of Redox-Inactive Metals.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135, 19075-19078. DOI: 10.1021/ja4104974

Davide Lionetti, Michael W. Day, and Theodor Agapie “Metal-Templated Ligand Architectures for Trinuclear Chemistry: Tricopper Complexes and Their O2 Chemistry.” Chem. Sci., 2013, 4, 785-790. DOI: 10.1039/C2SC21758A

Davide Lionetti, Andrew J. Medvecz, Vesela Ugrinova, Mauricio Quiroz-Guzman, Bruce C. Noll, and Seth N. Brown “Redox-Active Tripodal Aminetris(aryloxide) Complexes of Titanium(IV).” Inorg. Chem., 2010, 49, 4687-4697. DOI: 10.1021/ic100347h

Courses Taught

CHM 112 - General Chemistry II: Reactions in the Atomic World, Lecture & Lab

CHM 222 - Inorganic Chemistry: Chemistry Across the Periodic Table & Lab