Faculty Profile

David G Cahill

Materials Science and Engineering
David G Cahill
David G Cahill
Willett Professor
203 Materials Science & Eng Bld
1304 W. Green
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 333-6753

Administrative Titles

  • Donald B. Willett Professor of Engineering

Primary Research Area

  • Materials for Energy and the Environment


  • B.S. Engineering Physics, Ohio State University, 1984
  • Ph.D. Physics, Cornell University, 1989

Academic Positions

  • Head of Department - Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois - (2010-2018)
  • Willett Professor of Engineering. College of Engineering, University of Illinois - (2005-present)
  • Professor - Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois - (2002-present)
  • Associate Professor - Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois - (1997-2002)
  • Assistant Professor - Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois - (1991-1997)

For more information

Other Professional Employment

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, IBM Watson Research Center (1989-91)

Professional Highlights

  • Professor Cahill received his BS in engineering physics from Ohio State University (summa cum laude) and his PhD in physics from Cornell University in 1989. His PhD work concerned lattice vibrations of disordered solids. Before joining the faculty at UIUC, he worked at IBM Watson Research Center where he conducted research on metal-semiconductor interfaces. His current research program focuses on developing a microscopic understanding of thermal transport at the nanoscale; the development of new methods of materials processing and analysis using ultrafast optical techniques; and advancing fundamental understanding of interfaces between materials and water. David Cahill is the 1998 winner of the Peter Mark Memorial Award, the outstanding young investigator award of the AVS. Cahill was named a University Scholar by the University of Illinois in 2001, and a Willett Professor of Engineering by the College of Engineering in 2005. He is a fellow of the American Vacuum Society, the American Physical Society, and the Materials Research Society. He is on the editorial boards of Applied Physics Letters and Journal of Applied Physics.

Research Statement

Thermal management is a critical issue in a wide variety of applications of thin films materials from state-of-the-art microprocessors to turbine engines. Heat can be carried by any excitation of the solid that is thermally excited: lattice vibrations, electrons, spin-waves. The lifetime or coherence of these excitations have a complex dependence the microstructure of materials; at nanometer length scales, the transfer of heat between various excitations at interfaces becomes the controlling factor. Our group studies the basic science of thermal transport in materials with a particular emphasis on the exchange of thermal energy at solid-solid and solid-liquid interfaces. We have recently developed new and powerful methods of characterizing nanoscale thermal transport using ultrafast laser metrology of precisely controlled thin film multilayers and suspensions of metallic nanoparticles.  We are currently working to extend our experimental methods to higher resolution in time, space, and energy.

Research Interests

  • nanoscale thermal transport, GHz frequency acoustics, magnetic materials, heat and mass transport in soft materials, ultrafast magneto-optics, materials property microscopy

Research Areas

  • Ceramics
  • Electronic Materials
  • Metals
  • Polymers

Research Topics

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Qiye Zheng, Antonio B. Mei, Mohit Tuteja, Davide G. Sangiovanni, Lars Hultman, Ivan Petrov, J. E. Greene and David G. Cahill, ￿Phonon and electron contributions to the thermal conductivity of VNx epitaxial layers, Phys. Rev. Mat. 1, 065002 (2017).
  • Hyejin Jang, Christopher R. Ryder, Joshua D. Wood, Mark C. Hersam and David G. Cahill, ￿3D anisotropic thermal conductivity of exfoliated rhenium disulfide,￿ Adv. Mat. 29, 1700650 (2017).
  • Johannes Kimling, Gyung-Min Choi, Jack T. Brangham, Tristan Matalla-Wagner, Torsten Hubner, Timo Kuschel, Fengyuan Yang and David G. Cahill, "Picosecond spin Seebeck effect," Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 057201 (2017).
  • Xu Xie, Kexin Yang, Dongyao Li, Tsung-Han Tsai, Jungwoo Shin, Paul V. Braun, and David G. Cahill, "High and low thermal conductivity of amorphous macromolecules," Phys. Rev. B 95, 035406 (2017).
  • Yu Zhou, Hyejin Jang, John M. Woods, Yujun Xie, Piranavan Kumaravadivel, Grace A. Pan, Jingbei Liu, Yanhui Liu, David G. Cahill, and Judy J. Cha, "Direct synthesis of large-scale WTe2 thin films with low thermal conductivity," Adv. Func. Mat., 27, 1605928 (2017).
  • Johannes Kimling and David G. Cahill, "Spin diffusion induced by pulsed-laser heating," Phys. Rev. B 95, 014402 (2017).
  • Xu Xie and David G. Cahill, "Thermometry of plasmonic nanostructures by anti-Stokes electronic Raman scattering," Appl. Phys. Lett. 109, 183104 (2016).
  • Jungwoo Shin, Minjee Kang, Tsunghan Tsai, Cecilia Leal, Paul V. Braun and David G. Cahill, "Thermally-functional liquid crystal networks by magnetic field driven molecular orientation," ACS Macro Letters 5, 955-960 (2016).
  • Dongyao Li and David G. Cahill, "Attenuation of 7 GHz surface acoustic waves on silicon," Phys. Rev. B 94, 104306 (2016).
  • Jonglo Park and David G. Cahill, "Plasmonic sensing of heat transport at solid-liquid interfaces," J. Phys. Chem. C, 120, 2814-2821 (2016).
  • Xu Xie, Dongyao Li, Tsung-Han Tsai, Jun Liu, Paul V. Braun, and David G. Cahill, "Thermal conductivity, heat capacity, and elastic constants of water-soluble polymers and polymer blends," Macromolecules, 49, 972-978 (2016).
  • Hyejin Jang, Joshua D. Wood, Christopher R. Ryder, Mark C. Hersam, and David G. Cahill, "Anisotropic thermal conductivity of exfoliated black phosphorus," Adv. Mat. 27 8017 (2015).
  • R. B. Wilson and David G. Cahill, "Limits to Fourier theory in high thermal conductivity single crystals," Appl. Phys. Lett. 107, 203112 (2015).
  • Gyung-Min Choi, Byoung-Chul Min, Kyung-Jin Lee and David G. Cahill, "Thermal spin transfer torque driven by ultrafast heat flow in metallic spin-valve structures," Nature Phys., 11, 576 (2015).
  • Johannes Kimling, R.B. Wilson, Karsten Rott, Judith Kimling, Guenter Reiss and David G. Cahill, "Spin-dependent thermal transport perpendicular to the planes of Co/Cu multilayers," Physical Review B 91, 144405 (2015).
  • R. B. Wilson, Brent A. Apgar, Wen-Pin Hsieh, Lane W. Martin and David G. Cahill, "Thermal conductance of strongly bonded metal-oxide interfaces," Phys. Rev. B 91, 5414 (2015).
  • Gregory T. Hohensee, R. B. Wilson and David G. Cahill, "Thermal conductance of metal-diamond interfaces at high pressure," Nature Communications 6, 6578 (2015).
  • Jun Liu, Xiaojia Wang, Dongyao Li, Nelson E. Coates, Rachel A. Segalman and David G. Cahill, "Thermal conductivity and elastic constants of PEDOT:PSS with high electrical conductivity," Macromolecules 48, 585-591 (2015).

Research Honors

  • Innovation in Materials Characterization Award, Materials Research Society (2018)
  • Yeram S. Touloukian Award, ASME (2015)
  • Fellow of the Materials Research Society (2012)
  • Donald Bigger Willett Professor of Engineering, University of Illinois, College of Engineering (2005-present)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society (2005)
  • University Scholar, University of Illinois (2000-2003)
  • Peter Mark Memorial Award, AVS (1998)
  • Fellow of American Vacuum Society (1998)