Paul Barclay

Paul Barclay

Contact information

Web presence

Phone number

Office: +1 (403) 220-8517


Office: SB319


Educational Background

PhD Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, 2007

MSc Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, 2003

BSc Engineering Physics, University of British Columbia, 2001


Paul Barclay completed his Ph.D. in Applied Physics at the California Institute of Technology in 2007, where he performed early experiments in nonlinear optics with high-Q silicon photonic crystal cavities. In 2008 he joined Hewlett Packard Labs, in Palo Alto, California, where he helped establish the emerging field of diamond quantum nanophotonics. His undergraduate degree is in Engineering Physics from UBC, where he received the APEGBC Gold Medal.

Since starting his lab at the Institute for Quantum Science and Technology at the University of Calgary 2011, he has performed pioneering research in the field of diamond photonics, spin-optomechanics, and in nanophotonic quantum sensors.

His group’s impact was recognized in 2019 by the Herzberg Medal for early career researchers from the Canadian Association of Physicists, and in 2017 by an NSERC Discovery Accelerator award. He is a former AITF Scholar and has led two major CFI Innovation Fund projects as well as NSERC and Alberta Innovated Strategic Research Projects. His group members, who also work at the NRC Nanotechnology Research Centre in Edmonton, have won numerous awards, including a Governor General's Gold Medal.


Areas of Research

Quantum nanophotonics
Solid state quantum optics
Quantum sensing
Diamond photonics
Cavity optomechanics

My lab studies topics in nanophotonics, quantum optics, and nonlinear optics. Generally, the goal of research in nanophotonics is to create technology to manipulate light within micro- and nanoscale circuits. Nanophotonic circuits are created with many of the same nanoscale fabrication and patterning tools and techniques used to create electronic microchips, and are beginning to play a role in high performance computing and data center architectures at companies like HP, IBM and Intel. From a more fundamental perspective, nanophotonic devices can create extremely high electromagnetic energy densities at even the single photon level. They accomplish this by concentrating optical energy into nanoscale volumes, and trapping it there for relatively long lengths of time (above a nanosecond, which is a million times longer than a single oscillation at the frequency of light). These enhanced electromagnetic energy densities result in strong interactions between light and the nanophotonic devices, and amplify nominally small optical effects such as nonlinear absorption and optical coupling to mechanical resonances. In the ultimate limit, even for a weak input consisting of only a single photon, these effects can significantly modify the linear response of a nanophotonic device. Specific projects that utilize these ideas and technology, and that our lab is interested in pursuing are listed below. For updates on our latest work, check our publications.

  • Diamond nanophotonics and quantum optics: spin-photon interactions in diamond for quantum informations processing.
  • Optomechanics: optically driven mechanical effects in nanoscale devices.
  • Environmental sensing: robust and compact optical sensors of environmental metrics.
  • Atomic physics: integrating nanophotonics with experiments using laser cooled atoms.


  • Herzberg Medal, Canadian Association of Physicists. 2019
  • JILA Visiting Fellow, The University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards & Technology. 2019
  • Peak Scholar Award, The University of Calgary. 2018
  • Early Career Researcher Award, Faculty of Science, The University of Calgary. 2017
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies GREAT Supervisor Award, The University of Calgary. 2017
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies GREAT Supervisor Award, The University of Calgary. 2016
  • iCore/AITF Scholar in Quantum Nanophotonics, iCore/Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. 2015


  • Chapter 1: Principles of quantum information processing (QIP) using diamond (invited). I Aharonovich; Paul E Barclay; S Prawer. Elsevier. 18-Mar. (2014)

More Information

For a full list of publications, presentations and documents visit:

News stories:

  • 2022:  Elected by the Board of Directors of Optica (Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide) to the 2023 Optica Fellows class (Read more)
  • 2021:  Awarded funds from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (Read more)
  • 2021:  Government of Alberta announces over $22M in funding for UCalgary researchers (Read more)
  • 2021:  University of Calgary physicists develop novel approach to building a 'quantum internet' (Read more)
  • 2019:  Recipient of the 2019 CAP Herzberg Medal (Read more)
  • 2019:  Collaborations with communities and industry tackle pressing challenges via NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants (Read more)
  • 2018:  Honoured at 2018 Peak Scholars celebration (Read more)
  • 2016:  Paul Barclay and his team make the first-ever nano-sized optical resonator from a single crystal of diamond (Read more)