Robert W. Boyd

Robert W. Boyd

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Nonlinear Optics

University of Ottawa

"We are delighted to welcome Professor Robert Boyd to our institution. His presence among us reinforces the international leadership of the University of Ottawa in nanophotonics."

― Mona Nemer, vice-president, research, University of Ottawa


Robert W. Boyd has been an internationally recognized leading scientist in nonlinear optics for over 30 years. His research spans a range of topics, from physics to engineering, fundamental to applied research, and classical to quantum nonlinear optics.

Before becoming a Canada Excellence Research Chair at the University of Ottawa, Boyd was the M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics and Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester in New York.

Boyd holds a PhD in physics from the University of California at Berkeley, and received his bachelor's degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published almost 200 research papers, many in prestigious journals such as Science and Physical Review Letters. Most students in optics know his name, as he is the author of Nonlinear Optics, a textbook commonly used around the world. He has also been awarded eight United States patents in nonlinear optics, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.

Innovation at the Speed of Light

Robert W. Boyd is a global leader in the field of photonics, the study of photons and their application in telecommunications and informatics. As Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Nonlinear Optics, he aims to establish a world-class research program in quantum nonlinear optics and nanophotonics at the University of Ottawa.

Boyd's multifold research as chair is using nanotechnology to make new materials for various cutting-edge technological applications in science and engineering. His breakthroughs in optics could have important implications for research across other disciplines, such as information and communications technology, solar energy conversion, and biomedical imaging.

Using state-of-the-art techniques of nanophotonics, Boyd is fabricating photonic crystals for a variety of applications in photonics and nonlinear optics. One procedure is to use these photonic crystals to slow down the speed of light. The ability to control the speed of light can lead to important applications such as the development of buffers for optical telecommunication, laser radars to track distant objects, and spectrometers of unprecedented precision for environmental sensing.

Boyd's research program also has the potential to advance current solar energy technology by developing nanostructures to enhance the interaction between light and matter. Another aspect of Boyd's work involves fundamental issues such as determining the maximum amount of information a single photon can hold. The ability to transmit many bits of data on a single photon has important consequences for minimizing power requirements for telecommunication networks, and for improving the security of communications systems.

A highly esteemed researcher, Boyd is a synergistic addition to an already stellar group of researchers at the University of Ottawa and its working partner, the National Research Council of Canada. His research breakthroughs will help reinforce the University of Ottawa as a global leader in optics and photonics research.



Release date

October 11, 2011

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In broad terms, the goal of my research is to develop new capabilities in the field of photonics. Photonics is the field of research that is aimed at controlling the properties of light for useful applications.

From my research point of view, the work that I'm most proud of is my research over the past eight years on controlling the velocity of light pulses. This work is of interest both from a conceptual point of view that one can control the velocity of light in this manner, and from a practical point of view in that it leads to the development of new devices for use in optical technology.

The University of Ottawa and more generally, the Ottawa area, already has a large group of photonic scientists conducting robust research in the area of photonics. I feel that by joining forces with them, we can put together a research program of unparalleled excellence on the world stage.

What has attracted me to Canada is the CERC program itself. With the level of funding that has been made available, I feel there is nothing holding me back from accomplishing my research goals.

The ability to control the properties of light have enormous implications in many areas of science and technology. For example, the outcomes of our research could have very important implications for optical telecommunication, for the development of diagnostics for biomedical research, and for the creation of solar energy cells with higher efficiency.