Professor Riles carries out research into the fundamental forces of nature, working in both gravitational wave and elementary particle physics.
Professor Riles is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), searching for gravitational waves from astrophysical sources. This $300 million project, led by Caltech and MIT, operates three km-scale Michelson laser interferometers at sites in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana. These interferometers are designed to measure minute disturbances in space itself to a relative precision better than 1 part in a billion trillion (10-21). Transient "ripples in space" could emanate from violent but distant astrophysical phenomena, such as supernovae or colliding neutron stars. Using LIGO data, the Michigan gravitational wave group has placed upper limits on longer-lived but still weaker (<10-24) ripples from unknown, rapidly spinning neutron stars in the Milky Way.
In addition, the group has carried out extensive work on LIGO detector characterization, including calibration, and on detector commissioning.
Professor Riles also spends part of his research time studying the physics potential and the detector requirements of a future linear electron positron collider with a center of mass energy of 350 GeV and higher. His main focus in this work now is contributing to the design and the alignment R&D for a large charged-particle tracker with unprecedented momentum and position precision.
All-Sky LIGO Search for Periodic Gravitational Waves in the Early S5 Data, (B. Abbott et al), Phys. Rev. Lett 102 111102 (2009).
All-Sky Search for Periodic Gravitational Waves in LIGO S4 Data, (B. Abbott et al), Phys. Rev. D 77 022001 (2008).
High-Precision Absolute Distance Measurement Using Dual-Laser Frequency Scanned Interferometry Under Realistic Conditions, (H. Yang et al), Nuc. Inst. Meth. A 575 375 (2007).