David G. Cahill

David G Cahill
David G Cahill

David G Cahill

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

thermal energy conversion and control, nanoscale thermal transport, ultrafast science, water purification, thermal management

Department Head
Materials Science and Engineering
  • Department Office
203 Materials Science & Eng Bld
1304 W. Green
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 333-6753

For more information

Academic and Scientific Experience

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.


  • Ph.D. - Experimental Condensed Matter Physics - Cornell University - 8/89
  • B.S. - Engr. Physics - Ohio State University - 6/84

Academic Positions

  • Head of Department - Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois - (2010-present)
  • 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)

Courses Taught

  • MSE 396 - Introduction to Research

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.

Selected Articles in Journals

  • 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).
  • Gregory T. Hohensee, Michael R. Fellinger, Dallas R. Trinkle and David G. Cahill, "Thermal transport across high pressure semiconductor-metal transition in Si and SiGe," Physical Review B 91, 5104 (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).
  • Gyung-Min Choi and David G. Cahill, "Optical detection of transient spin accumulation in Cu, Ag and Au," Phys. Rev. B 90, 214432 (2014).
  • Johannes Kimling, Judith Kimling, R. B. Wilson, David G. Cahill, Birgit Hebler and Manfred Albrecht, "Role of magnetic heat capacity in ultrafast demagnetization," Phys. Rev. B 90, 224408 (2014).
  • Joseph P. Feser, Jun Liu and David G. Cahill, "Pump-probe measurements of the thermal conductivity tensor for materials lacking in-plane symmetry," Rev. Sci. Instrum. 85, 104903 (2014).
  • R. B. Wilson and David G. Cahill, "Anisotropic failure of Fourier's law in Si and MgO and the importance of temperature-profile extrema," Nature Commun. 5, 5075 (2014).
  • Trong Tong, J. Karthik, R. V. K. Mangalam, Lane W. Martin and David G. Cahill, "Reduction of the electrocaloric entropy change of PbZr0.2Ti0.8O3 thin films by an elastocaloric effect," Phys. Rev. B 90, 094116 (2014).
  • Ji Yong Park, Andrew Gardner, Ashwin Ramesh, William P. King, Steve Granick and David G. Cahill, "Droplet impingement and vapor layer formation on hot hydrophobic surfaces," J. Heat Transf. 136, 092902 (2014).
  • Gyung-Min Choi, Byoung-Chul Min, Kyung-Jin Lee and David G. Cahill, "Spin current generated by thermally-driven ultrafast demagnetization," Nature Commun. 5, 4334 (2014).
  • Jiung Cho, Mark D. Losego, Hui Gang Zhang, Honggyu Kim, Jianmin Zuo, Ivan Petrov, David G. Cahill and Paul V. Braun, "Electrochemically tunable thermal conductivity of lithium cobalt oxide," Nature Commun. 5, 4035 (2014).
  • Gyung-Min Choi, Richard B. Wilson and David G. Cahill, "Indirect heating of Pt by short-pulse laser irradiation of Au in a nanoscale Pt/Au bilayer," Phys. Rev. B 89, 064307 (2014).
  • G.T. Hohensee, R.B. Wilson, J.P. Feser and David G. Cahill, "Magnon-phonon coupling in Ca9La5Cu24O41 spin ladders measured by time-domain thermoreflectance," Phys. Rev. B, 89, 024422 (2014).
  • J.Y. Huang, W. Wang, C.J. Murphy and D.G. Cahill, "Resonant secondary light emission from plasmonic Au nanostructures and the role of high electron temperatures created by pulsed laser excitation," PNAS, 111, 906-911 (2014).
  • D.G. Cahill, P.V. Braun, G. Chen, D.R. Clarke, S.H. Fan, K.E. Goodson, P. Keblinski, W.P. King, G.D. Mahan, A. Majumdar, H.J. Maris, S.R. Phillpot, E. Pop and L.Shi, "Nanoscale Thermal Transport II: 2003-2012", Appl. Phys. Rev. 1, 011305 (2014).
  • R.B. Wilson, J.P. Feser, G. Hohensee and D.G. Cahill, "Analysis of two-channel heat flow in pump-probe studies of non-equilibrium thermal transport," Phys. Rev. B 88, 144305 (2013).
  • D.Y. Li, P. Zhao, J.C. Zhao and D.G. Cahill, "Generation and detection of GHz surface acoustic waves using an elastomeric phase-shift mask," J. Appl. Phys. 114, 143102 (2013).
  • A. Martinez Saenz de Jubera, J. Herbison, Y.Komaki, M. Plewa, J. Moore, D.G. Cahill and B. Mariñas, "Development and performance characterization of a polyamide nanofiltration membrane modified with covalently bonded aramide dendrimers," Env. Sci. Technol. 47, 8642 (2013).
  • X.J. Wang, C.D. Liman, N.D. Treat, M.L. Chabinyc and D.G. Cahill, "Ultralow thermal conductivity of fullerene derivatives," Phys. Rev. B 88, 075310 (2013).
  • P.X. Chen, N.A. Katcho, J.P. Feser, W. Li, M. Glaser, O.G. Schmid, D.G. Cahill, N. Mingo and A. Rastelli, "Role of surface-segregation-driven intermixing on the thermal transport through planar Ge/Si superlattices," Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 115901 (2013).
  • X.J.Wang, V. Ho, R.A. Segalman and D.G. Cahill, "Thermal conductivity of high modulus polymer fibers," Macromolecules 46, 4937 (2013).
  • J.Y. Huang, J. Park, W. Wang, C.J. Murphy and D.G. Cahill, "Ultrafast Thermal Analysis of Surface Functionalized Gold Nanorods in Aqueous Solution," ACS Nano 7, 589-597 (2013); erratum 7 3732 (2013).

Research Honors

  • 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)
  • Willet Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois (2002-2004)
  • University Scholar, University of Illinois (2000-2003)
  • Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2000)
  • Peter Mark Memorial Award, AVS (1998)
  • Fellow of American Vacuum Society (1998)