David C. Johnson

Dave JohnsonProfessor
Solid State Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Electrochemistry and Materials Science, University of Oregon

Rosaria P. Haugland Chair
Pure and Applied Chemistry, 2007

Associate Director for Outreach Programs and Member
Materials Science Institute

At the University of Oregon since 1986.


B.A., Rutgers University, 1978.
Ph.D., Cornell University, 1983 (Michel J. Sienko).
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University, 1983-84 (M. J. Sienko).


Research Interests

Dave Johnson's research is at the interface of chemistry and physics and at the forefront of materials research. His group has pioneered a new approach to the synthesis of extended solids that permits them to prepare families of new nanostructured and kinetically stable compounds. The synthesis approach depends on controlling composition and diffusion lengths within a precursor that is designed to self-assemble into the desired new compound, as shown on the right. His group determines the crystal structures and measures the electrical and magnetic properties of these new compounds. By correlating structure with unusual physical properties and using their unique synthesis approach, Johnson's group is able to predict and then synthesize new compounds with unusual or unprecedented physical properties. [1]

Johnson's groundbreaking, non-traditional approach to chemical synthesis has led to many new materials that have immediate practical applications. For example, his group discovered a new, turbostratically disordered form of tungsten diselenide with the lowest thermal conductivity ever reported for a dense solid (Ultralow Thermal Conductivity in Disordered, Layered WSe Crystals Catalin Chiritescu, David G. Cahill, Ngoc Nguyen, David Johnson, Arun Bodapati, Pawel Keblinski, and Paul Zschack, Science 19 January 2007 315: 351-353 [2] [3] [4]. His group determined that this material has an unprecedentedly small thermal conductivity because it is poised between a fully disordered material and a fully ordered crystalline lattice. This correlation between structure and property permitted Johnson's group to prepare many additional compounds with comparably small thermal conductivities. Johnson's synthesis approach is used to adjust the work function of metal contacts and to form phase change memory materials in the semiconductor industry.

Johnson's research group benefits from collaborating with researchers at other institutions, who probe the physical properties and electronic structures of the new compounds they prepare. For example, the discovery and understanding of tungsten diselenide with the lowest thermal conductivity ever reported for a dense solid depended on thermal conductivity measurements by Professor Cahill's group at the University of Illinios, diffraction data and analysis done with Dr. Zschack of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, and calculations performed by Professor Keblinski of Rochester Institute of Technology. More recently, collaborations with the Franhofer Institute in Freiburg Germany have enabled Johnson's group to develop an equilibrium based approach to control the carrier concentration of nanostructured compounds.

Johnson is both an entrepreneur and educator, and has worked extensively with the Engineering and Technology Industry Council to create research and educational programs with Oregon Industries. He led MSI's efforts to create the Graduate Internship Program (Industrial Internship Graduate degree program). This program now partners with over 60 companies as well as universities and colleges across the country, providing both Masters and Ph.D. students in chemistry and physics at the University of Oregon with opportunities to spend 6-9 months as engineers and research scientists solving problems in an industry setting or to spend a quarter or semester as an instructor at a primarily undergraduate institution. These internships build skills and provide experience that lead to informed career decisions and opportunities for the participating students. Industry in the Northwest has benefited short term from the productivity of the interns and long term from gaining outstanding employees. The relationships formed setting up the Graduate Internship program formed the basis of the government, industry, and academic research collaborations that developed into ONAMI, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute. ONAMI promotes collaboration between scientists at UO, OSU, PSU, PNNL, and Oregon Industries. Johnson was one of the founding faculty directors of ONAMI.

Johnson has also been a leader in successful National Science Foundation IGERT [5] and GK-12 programs as well as U.S. Dept. of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need awards. The IGERT program supports graduate students collaborating between Materials Science Institute (MSI) research groups and facilitates Ph.D. students obtaining internships with partnering companies. The GK-12 and GAANN programs partner with the Umatilla-Morrow and North Central Educational Service Districts. Ph.D. students become scientists-in-residence in schools served by these ESDs, training teachers in the use of inquiry based science kits in their classrooms. Through ONAMI and the Engineering and Technology Industry Council, Johnson has strengthened ties between local industry and the University of Oregon and between the University of Oregon and PSU and OSU [6]. Working with Vice Provost Rich Linton, Johnson was able to provide both industry and fellow academics access to expensive materials characterization equipment through the establishment of CAMCOR - the Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon . CAMCOR is Oregon's high tech extension service and is located in the new Lokey Labs facility which is a factor of two below the NIST A criteria for vibrations at all frequencies and has exceptional temperature stability. [7] [8]

More recently, Johnson collaborated with Douglas Keszler, OSU, John Wager, OSU, and Darren Johnson, UO on a successful proposal to the National Science Foundation for a Chemical Innovation Center. [8] [9] The Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, funded in October 2008, studies and expands a transformational solution-based chemistry platform developed by the team that will allow electronics manufacturers to:
- fabricate high-performance devices via low temperature deposition,
- pattern inorganic materials with an unprecedented combination of high resolution, high speed, and large area,
- reduce the production of waste,
- optimize device performance, and
- enable transformational fundamental chemistry,
- creating new green technology.

CSMC Research Thrusts

Understanding Structural Evolution/Interdiffusion (Lead)

Recent Center Papers

  1. Anderson, M. D.; Heideman, C. L.; Lin, Q.; Smeller, M.; Kokenyesi, R.; Herzing, A. A.; Anderson, I. M.; Keszler, D. A.; Zschack, P.; Johnson, D. C., Size-Dependent Structural Distortions in One-Dimensional Nanostructures. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2013, 52, 1982-1985.
  2. Atkins, R.; Disch, S.; Jones, Z.; Haeusler, I.; Grosse, C.; Fischer, S. F.; Neumann, W.; Zschack, P.; Johnson, D. C., Synthesis, structure and electrical properties of a new tin vanadium selenide. Journal of Solid State Chemistry 2013, 202, 128-133.
  3. Atkins, R.; Moore, D. B.; Johnson, D. C., Insights into the Self-Assembly of Ferecrystalline Compounds from Designed Amorphous Precursors. Chemistry of Materials 2013, 25, 1744-1750.
  4. Grosse, C.; Atkins, R.; Kirmse, H.; Mogilatenko, A.; Neumann, W.; Johnson, D. C., Local structure and defect chemistry of [(SnSe)1.15]m(TaSe2) ferecrystals – A new type of layered intergrowth compound. Journal of Alloys and Compounds 2013, 579, 507-515.
  5. Heideman, C. L.; Tepfer, S.; Lin, Q.; Rostek, R.; Zschack, P.; Anderson, M. D.; Anderson, I. M.; Johnson, D. C., Designed Synthesis, Structure, and Properties of a Family of Ferecrystalline Compounds [(PbSe)1.00]m(MoSe2)nJournal of the American Chemical Society 2013, 135, 11055-11062.
  6. Jiang, K.; Meyers, S. T.; Anderson, M. D.; Johnson, D. C.; Keszler, D. A., Functional Ultrathin Films and Nanolaminates from Aqueous Solutions. Chemistry of Materials 2013, 25, 210-214.
  7. Moore, D. B.; Beekman, M.; Disch, S.; Zschack, P.; Häusler, I.; Neumann, W.; Johnson, D. C., Synthesis, Structure, and Properties of Turbostratically Disordered (PbSe)1.18(TiSe2)2Chemistry of Materials 2013, 25, 2404-2409.

Recent Press

  1. "UO chemist brings cutting-edge science to Pacific City" Tillamook Headlight Herald: November 11, 2013 www.tillamookheadlightherald.com/entertainment/article_c297f7a0-4af1-11e3-a2ee-0019bb2963f4.html
  2. "Oregon lab changes game for synthesizing new materials" UO Communications: July 31, 2013

Honors and Appointments

Advisory Board, National Science Foundation IGERT Resource Center, 2008 
Rosaria Haugland Foundation Chair in Pure and Applied Chemistry, 2007 
Board Member, International Thermoelectric Society, 2006 
Outstanding Scientist Award, Oregon Academy of Science, 2006 
Solid State Chair, Division of Inorganic Chemistry, American Chemical Society, 2006 
Solid State Chair elect, Division of Inorganic Chemistry, American Chemical Society, 2006 
Faculty Co-Director, Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnology Institute, 2004 
Director of Educational Outreach, Materials Science Institute
, 2000-present 
Advisory Editor for Inorganic Chemistry, 1999-present 
Professor of Chemistry, University of Oregon, 1997-present 
Director, Materials Science Institute, University of Oregon, 1996-2000 
Advisory Editor for Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 1994-present 
Treasurer, Materials Science Institute, University of Oregon, 1994-1996 
Associate Professor, University of Oregon, 1992-1997 
Office of Naval Research, Young Investigator Award, 1987-1990 
Assistant Professor, University of Oregon, 1986-1993 
Research Chemist, Dupont Central Research; Development Dept.,Wilmington, DE, 1984-1986 
Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1983-1984 
NATO Exchange Fellow, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Great Britain, 1983 
Graduate Research Assistant, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1978-1983 
Graduate with High Department Honors, Rutgers University, 1983 
Henry Rutgers Undergraduate Research Scholar, 1977-1978 
Summer Undergraduate Research Grant; FMC Corporation, 1977 

David Johnson's CV and Publications

Materials Science Institute Industrial Internship Program

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

NSF GK-12 Outreach Program