Dr. Pawel Hawrylak


Video of the Researcher

Lab name

Quantum Theory Group




Full name

Dr. Pawel Hawrylak


Using quantum physics to develop quantum communication and sensing

Type of researcher

Principal Investigator

Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials

The Quantum Theory group works to develop theoretical and computational tools enabling the design and understanding of advanced materials, developing new quantum functionalities of materials by nanoscale and molecular engineering and translating these functionalities into quantum devices. These devices include new quantum circuits based on graphene and other 2D crystals, low-power and quantum electronics based on electron spin, photonic devices for secure quantum communication, improved solar energy harvesting and sensing at the single atom, electron, photon and spin level. We are particularly interested in designing emerging properties of materials at the many body level – properties of material which cannot be inferred from the properties of its constituents.

Describe your research

What do we do? We develop tools, theoretical and computational, to allow us to understand advanced materials, learn how to engineer their properties at the nanoscale and translate these new functionalities into devices addressing challenges in information and communication technology, in energy harvesting, in sensing and in security.

We are particularly interested in designing properties of materials emerging from a very complex nature of components. When you look at an individual component you cannot guess what the complex systems made of these elements will do.

Let me give you some examples of how we engineer materials at the nanoscale. Imagine that this block of paper is a bulk material: molybdenum disulphide. It is completely useless as an optoelectronic device. This material consists of atomic layers and if I pull one of those layers then we completely change the properties of the material.

For example, if it is molybdenum disulphide it becomes a direct gap semiconductor. It has very unusual properties. A single atomic layer can absorb as much light as 50 layers of a well-known semiconductor, gallium arsenide. Gallium arsenide is found in all optoelectronic devices: lasers or CD players. So perhaps there is a chance to replace gallium arsenide with this new material.

Our work addresses challenges in information and communication technologies. Let’s identify these challenges. The first challenge is that the current technology is not capable of solving many problems that we would like to solve from drug design to the Traveling Salesman Problem.

Explain its significance

Current technology also is very energy inefficient. It consumes a lot of energy and that’s why a lot of companies, like Google, place their servers next to power plants because they use so much energy.

The third aspect is that current technology uses rare materials, materials which are simply not available in the Earth’s crust if all the devices are used globally.

A fourth deficiency of current information technology is security.So how do we address these challenges. We address these challenges by developing new quantum technology and these technologies rest on new materials. In summary, we use and develop quantum theory to address challenges in information and communication technologies by developing quantum technologies including quantum computing quantum communication and quantum sensing.


Institution name

University of Ottawa

Type of institution



Information and cultural industries

Telecommunications, Data processing, hosting, and related services