Lab Group

Welcome to the Precision Laser Diagnostics Lab at CU-Boulder! The lab is headed by Prof. Greg Rieker and staffed by a fine bunch of researchers interested in energy, the environment, and lasers/optics. Our work is roughly divided into two categories:

  • Development of new laser-based sensors for measurements that are not currently possible in combustion, industrial, and environmental systems, and
  • Application of laser sensor technologies to develop new understanding of and actively improve these systems.

Examples of this work can be found on the research page. If you are interested in joining our group, please see the opportunities page. And of course, check out our latest news below.


4/2017 Congratulations to Matthew Chamot, who landed an internship at Seagate for the summer! He'll be working as a Process Engineering Intern, designing equipment that makes hard disc drives. Way to go Matthew!

CDPHE Open House 2017
Rieker lab field trip! Robbie Wright, Caroline Alden and Sean Coburn took a trip to Platteville, Colorado, to attend the CDPHE Air Pollution Control Division's open house and onsite demonstrations for inspections of atmospheric condensate storage tank facilities.

ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit 2017
Professor Greg Rieker and Robbie Wright field questions from fellow attendees at the 2017 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. At the Summit Technology Showcase the ARPA-E team presented new field results, demonstrating the location and sizing of small, controlled methane leaks with dual frequency comb spectroscopy.

Optics Express
Congratulations to Torrey Hayden on the publication of her first paper "Large amplitude wavelength modulation spectroscopy for sensitive measurements of broad absorbers." The article is out now in Optics Express.

Nate Gorence at Table Mountain
The work of our DOE ARPA-E technology-to-market advisor Nate Gorence was highlighted on a recent ARPA-E blog. The article features this photo of Nate during his latest visit to our field test site.

Moving the lab table!
The Rieker group goes big! Barney Ellison in the CU Chemistry department donated a 15' optical table to our group. Campus moving services told us they did not have the capability to move such a behemoth. So, PhD students Ryan Cole and Paul Schroeder, together with Mechanical Engineering facilities coordinator George Carter, organized a group of students and equipment for the move. 1 hour and 5 pizzas is all it took!

Optics Express
Prof. Rieker travelled to Leipzig, Germany for the OSA Light, Energy, and the Environment Congress. In total the group contributed to four talks, including two talks led by our collaborators at NIST and two talks led by PhD students Paul Schroeder ("Dual frequency comb spectroscopy of high temperature water vapor: absorption model development for combustion sensors") and Torrey Hayden ("Ultra-large amplitude wavelength modulation spectroscopy"). This photo is of the statue at the entrance to Auersbachs Keller, a historic wine bar and restaurant dating back to 1438 and the first place that Mephistopheles took Faust in the famous Goethe play "Faust."

11/2016 Anthony Torres was recently awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program Grant from the University of Colorado to continue his work in the Rieker Lab. Congratulations Anthony!

10/2016 Way to go Paul Schroeder! His presentation at the 2016 StARS (Student Annual Research Symposium) event in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department landed him a top presenter award.

US Department of Energy
Congratulations to PhD student Jason Christopher who was selected for promotion from the rank of captain to the rank of major in the United States Air Force!

US Department of Energy
Congratulations to the Rieker group! Together with a team from UC-Davis, Scientific Aviation, and NIST, they won a grant from the Department of Energy to study emissions from methane storage facilities. The grant announcement and description of the investigation they'll lead can be found in the DOE Award Announcement. Special thanks to Caroline Alden and Sean Coburn for their organizational efforts at the proposal stage.

Professor Rieker at FLAIR 2016
Professor Rieker traveled to Aix-Les-Bains, France for an invited talk at Field Laser Applications in Industry and Research (FLAIR) 2016: "Combustion and Environmental Science Applications of Fieldable Frequency Combs." In addition to hearing engaging talks by fellow researchers, he also learned that one should not mix charcuterie and hot dishes on the same plate (at least according to one annoyed French chef).

9/2016 Welcome to new PhD student Ryan Cole and new intern Matt Chamot!

36th International Symposium on Combustion
The Rieker lab goes to Seoul! PhD student Paul Schroeder presented new research at the 36th Annual International Symposium on Combustion in Seoul, Korea this month. Paul's talk was titled: Dual Frequency Comb Laser Absorption Spectroscopy in a 16MW Gas Turbine Exhaust.

ASPIRE Summer Bridge Program
Greg Rieker leads a team of incoming first-year College of Engineering and Applied Science students through projects and skills development as part of the CU BOLD Center's ASPIRE (Achieving Student Performance, Interest and Retention in Engineering) Summer Bridge Program.

Congratulations to PhD student Torrey Hayden, who was accepted to and attended the OSA Foundation Siegman International School on Lasers in Barcelona this July! The program hosted graduate students from around the world for a week of education advancement, building new collaborations, and promoting research and engineering for the optical community.

The Rieker lab goes mobile! Our new 16’ mobile laboratory heads out to the field. Thanks to ARPA-E support and dedicated work from many members of the team (Sean Coburn and Robbie Wright in particular), we now have an extension of our lab located in the fields of eastern Colorado. This platform is currently aimed at detecting methane emissions with unprecedented sensitivity and accuracy.

6/2016 Our group’s technology is highlighted on the ARPA-E’s blog: http://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=news-item/monitor-project-teams-develop-innovative-methane-detection-technologies

Combs in Power Plant
Congratulations to PhD student Paul Schroeder on his recent publication in the Proceedings of the Combustion Institute. The paper represents the first application of frequency comb spectroscopy in an industrial environment (the 16 MW gas turbine in the CU power plant!). Visit the publications page for more info.

Profs. Peter Hamlington, John Daily, and Greg Rieker won a 3 year grant from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), a strategic partnership between the DoD, DoE, and EPA. The focus of the grant is to study wildfire combustion.

6/2016 Congratulations to former student Bennett Sodergren, who just landed a job at Vescent Photonics in Golden, CO!

6/2016 Sean Coburn heads to the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy to present on our methane sensing work!

6/2016 Welcome to our 2016 summer interns: Bill Andrew, Bryan Watson, and Brett Lively

5/2016 Thanks to the CU Engineering Excellence Fund and Phillips 66 gift funds for supporting our proposal for equipment and student interns to help develop a new undergraduate hands-on thermofluids laboratory class for Spring 2017.

5/2016 Professor Rieker gives the Friday invited “Big Idea” lecture at the OSA’s Incubator on Precision Measurements in Air Quality Monitoring: “Localizing gas sources using kilometer-scale open-path dual-comb spectroscopy and high-resolution transport modeling”

5/2016 Congratulations to Paul Schroeder on his successful comprehensive exam. Just one more milestone to go…thesis defense!

3/2016 Professor Rieker gives the NIST Time and Frequency division seminar: “Free Range Frequency Combs: Field Applications of NIST Technology from Methane Detection to Combustion”

ARPAE Energy Summit
The ARPA-E project team travels to DC to showcase our technology at the ARPA-E Energy Summit.

1/2016 Welcome to new research associate Nazanin Hoghooghi, who joins us after a Marie Curie Fellowship at Toptica Photonics in Germany.

12/2015 Fabrizio Giorgetta’s paper, “Broadband Phase Spectroscopy over Turbulent Air Paths” is published in Physical Review Letters!

Torrey CPIA
Congrats to Torrey Hayden on her best poster award at this year’s Colorado Photonics Industry Association annual meeting! She puts pressure on next year’s posters to extend our lab’s streak at this event.

10/2015 Prof. Rieker gives an invited talk at Frontiers in Optics entitled: “Precision Atmospheric Trace Gas Monitoring with Frequency Comb Lasers.”

7/2015 Prof. Rieker and the lab deliver an interactive workshop for CU’s BOLD ASPIRE summer program for incoming engineers: “Fire, Lasers, and Saving the World — How Engineering Led Me to the Coolest Job Ever.”


Torrey CPIA
Torrey Hayden volunteers her time for CU Science Discovery, a program that challenges young students to solve engineering problems.

Prof. Rieker and Prof. Jun Ye (JILA) are awarded a grant from DARPA to develop sensitive frequency comb-based diagnostics.

6/2015 The Rieker group welcomes Sean Coburn, Amanda Makowiecki, David Pfotenhauer, Bill Andrew, Robbie Wright, and Jinyu Yang. Check out the people page!

The Precision Laser Diagnostics Laboratory is awarded a grant from Air Force Research Laboratories to aid in diagnostic development for microthrusters.

The Precision Laser Diagnostics Lab has a good showing at CLEO 2015! Torrey Hayden presented her work on Wavelength Modulation Spectroscopy for Broad Absorbers, and Esther Baumann of NIST presented on our work with NIST on measurements of absorption lineshapes and spectroscopic parameters in the open atmosphere.

Paul Schroeder wins 'The People's Choice Award' at the poster session of the 2015 CU Energy Frontiers Conference for his poster titled 'Combining Science and Engineering: Spectroscopy of Water Vapor in a Coal Gasifier Using Dual Frequency Comb Spectroscopy.'

Prof. Rieker receives a CAREER award from the Combustion and Fire Systems program of the National Science Foundation! The $507k award will fund a joint research and educational program over the next 5 years. The research will focus on establishing powerful frequency comb-based diagnostics for combustion systems. The educational component will establish a new hands-on thermal systems capstone course, and translate portions of this course into workshops aimed at helping high school and undergraduate students explore career options related to energy. View the press release here.

Prof. Rieker and collaborators from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are awarded $2.1M to develop frequency comb-based technologies for methane leak detection through the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency, ARPA-E. View the press release here.

12/2014 3M Corporation supports joint computational/experimental research between the Rieker and Hamlington groups through an annual gift.

Undergraduate Jaylen Hinds wins first prize at the You're@CU poster session for his work: “Design of a Pressure Vessel for High Temperature and High Pressure Spectroscopy.”

Frequency Combs
Prof. Rieker's paper “Frequency Comb-Based Remote Sensing of Greenhouse Gases over Kilometer Air Paths,” is published in Optica and featured on the Scientific American and OSA websites.

Paul Schroeder wins Colorado Photonics Industry Association award for his poster: “Combining Science and Engineering: Spectroscopy of Water Vapor in a Coal Gasifier Using Frequency Comb Lasers. ”

6/2014 Prof. Rieker presents “Frequency Comb Spectroscopy of CO2, CH4, H2O, and Isotopes Over a 2km Outdoor Path: Concentration Retrievals Using Different Absorption Models,” at the 13th International HITRAN conference in Cambridge, MA.

The Rieker group is featured in the ME Times newsletter: “Combing the world for understanding”.

3/2014 Laura Sinclair's paper “Operation of an Optically Coherent Frequency Comb Outside the Metrology Lab,” is published in Optics Express.

12/2013 Prof. Rieker presents “Measurements of CO2, CH4, H2O, and HDO over a 2-km Outdoor Path with Dual-Comb Spectroscopy,” at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, CA.

10/2013 Prof. Rieker and co-authors are issued US Patent 8,558,461 “Method and Apparatus for Inductive Amplification of Ion Beam Energy”.

9/2013 The National Science Foundation awards Prof. Rieker and Prof. Jason Porter (Colorado School of Mines) a collaborative grant to study reaction kinetics in coal gasification systems. These systems are critical to the cleaner use of coal resources in coming years.

9/2013 Prof. Rieker gives the invited talk “Dual-Comb Spectroscopy of Greenhouse Gases Over a 2-km Outdoor Path,” at the Optical Instrumentation for Energy and Environmental Applications (E2) conference in Tucson, AZ.