Kenneth L. Ratzlaff, Ph.D.

Director, Instrumentation Design Lab
Primary office:
Malott Hall, room 6042

Ken Ratzlaff joined The University of Kansas in 1981 as Associate Scientist and Director of the Instrumentation Design Laboratory (IDL). 

In 1985, Dr. Ratzlaff was elected president of the Computers in Chemistry division of the American Chemical Society.  Promotion to Senior Scientist came in 1987.  

As part of the IDL, Dr. Ratzlaff has been part of a very diverse array of projects:  astro-particle detectors at the South Pole (where he made several deployment trips), on an Antarctic ice shelf, in Utah, and in Siberia as well as an array of equipment for FermiLab and CERN.  In contrast, other projects have dealt with fruit flies, fireflies, mice, rats, and legless lizards.  In between, we find high-speed lasers, miniaturization techniques, radar and much more.  Additional expertise has been developed in remote power systems (photovoltaic/wind) in extreme environments including the Antarctic plateau.

Dr. Ratzlaff has taught short courses in this country and abroad, a graduate lab course in laboratory electronics and computers, and currently team teaches a project-based electronics course in Physics.

Dr. Ratzlaff came to KU from Northern Illinois University where he was an Associate Professor.  From 1969-1973, he taught science and math at Moeding College in the Republic of Botswana.

In 1967, he earned his B.A. in Chemistry at Tabor College, followed by an M.S. at the University of Illinois in 1969.  After returning from Botswana, he received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1975.  Besides numerous papers and intellectual property, he is author of a book on laboratory computers and editor of a book on imaging detectors. 

Professional Publications

  1. "Theoretical Assessment of Precision in Dual Wavelength Spectrophotometric Measurement," Anal. Chem., 49, 2170 (1977) (with D.F.S. Natusch).
  2. "Microprocessors in Minicomputer Applications," Am. Lab., 10 (2), 17 (1978).
  3. "Computer-Controlled Dual Wavelength Spectrophotometer," Anal. Chem. 50, 1799 (1978) (with F. Chuang, D. Natusch, K. O'Keefe).
  4. "Optimizing Precision in Standard Addition Measurement," Anal. Chem.51, 232 (1979).
  5. "Optimization of Precision in Dual Wavelength Spectrophotometric Measurement," Anal. Chem.51, 256 (1979) (with H. b. Darus).
  6.  "Characterization of a Charge-Coupled Device Photoarray as a Molecular Absorption Spectrophotometric Detector," Appl. Spectrosc.33, 240 (1979) (with S.L. Paul).
  7. "Theoretical Assessment of Accuracy in Dual Wavelength Spectrophotometric Measurement," Anal. Chem.51, 1209 (1979) (with D. Natusch).
  8.  "Spectrophotometer Based on a Charge-Coupled Device Photoarray Detector," Anal. Chem.52, 916 (1980).
  9. "Linear Parameter Estimation in Rapid-Scan Spectrophotometry," Anal. Chem., 52, 1415 (1980).
  10. "The Use of Computer-Assisted Instruction in the Teaching Laboratory," J. Chem. Ed., 57, 1207 (1980) (with S. Engh).
  11. "Interfacing Microcomputers: A Guide to the Scientific User of S-100, TRS-80, PET, and Apple Microcomputers," J. Chem. Ed., 58, 503 (1981).
  12. "Laser Beam Spatial Profile Analysis Using a Two-Dimensional Photodiode Array," Rev. Sci. Instrum., 54, 856 (1983) (with T. K. Knudtson).
  13. "Creating Dedicated Instrument Controllers using Personal Computers as Platforms," Analyt. Instrum., 17, 225 (1988) (with T. Peters and D. Schloemer).
  14. "Picosecond Time-resolved Laser Spectrometer with Expanded Delay Range," Rev. Sci. Instrum., 59, 2375 (1988) (with J. Bostick, C. Johnson, S. Mounter, D. Schloemer).
  15. "HPLC Determination of Transition Metal Ions by Chemiluminescence Detected with a Charge-Coupled Device," Proceedings of the Society for Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, 1055, 123-34 (1989) (with R. Jalkian and M. Denton).
  16. "Computation of Two-Dimensional Polynomial Least-Squares Convolution Integers," Anal. Chem., 61, 1303 (1989) (with J. Johnson).
  17. "Computation of Two-Dimensional Polynomial Least-Squares Convolution Integers," Anal. Chem., 61, 1303 (1989) (with J. Johnson).
  18. "`Thin-Layer Chromatography Diskette' Storage of High Performance  Liquid Chromatographic Effluents with Off-Line Laser-Induced Fluorescence Detection," Anal. Sciences, 6, 121-129 (1990) (with J. Strojek, S. Soper, T. Kuwana)
  19. Surface-Enhanced Resonance Raman Spectroscopy of Liquid Chromatographic Analytes on Thin-Layer Chromatographic Plates," Anal. Chem., 62, 1438 (1990) (with S. Soper, T. Kuwana).
  20. "Detektory Typu ,Charge-Couple' W Nowoczesnych Pmiarach Analitycznych" (Charge-Coupled Device Photometric Detectors in Modern Analy¬tical Measure¬ments), Wiad. Chem., 44, 551 (1990).
  21. "Development of a Fourier Transform NMR Instrument Simulator," J. Chem. Inf. Comput. Sci., 33, 303 (1993) (with D. Vandervelde).
  22. "A compact hot-nozzle Fourier-transform microwave spectrometer," Rev. Sci. Instrum., 66, 5196 (1995) (with M. Harmony).
  23. “An automated tracer dispersal system for snow accumulation and saltation transport investigations,” Rev. Sci. Instrum., 69(2), 572 577 (1998) (with D. Braaten).
  24. “An inexpensive, semi-automated system for measuring mechanical properties of soft tissues,” J Exp Zool, 284(4), 374-8 (1999) (with D. E. Alexander, R. J. Roggero, and J. S. Hsieh.)
  25. "The Inebri-Actometer: A Device for Measuring the Locomotor Activity of Drosophila Exposed to Ethanol Vapor,” Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 107, 93-99 (2001)  (with J. Parr, A. Large, X. Wang, S.C. Fowler, D.M. Ruden.)
  26. “In-Channel Electrochemical Detection for Microchip Capillary Electrophoresis Using an Electrically isolated Potentiostat”, Anal. Chem., 74 (5), 1136 -1143, (2002) (with R. Scott Martin, Bryan H. Huynh, Susan M. Lunte.
  27. "RICE limits on the diffuse ultrahigh energy neutrino flux”, Phys. Rev. D, 73, 82002 (2006) (with Ilya Kravchenko and co-workers).
  28. “Updated Limits on the Ultra-High Energy (UHE) Neutrino Flux from the RICE Experiment”, 29th International Cosmic Ray Conference Pune, 5, 123-126 (2005) (with I. Kravchenko and co-workers). 
  29. “Event Reconstruction and Data Acquisition for the RICE Experiment at the South Pole”, arXiv:atro-ph/0705.4491v1, (31 May 2007) (with I Kravchenko and co-workers).
  30. “An Inexpensive Infrared Detector to Verify the Delivery of Food Pellets,” Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 90(2), 249-255, (2008) (with J. W. Pinkston, G.J. Madden and S.C. Fowler).
  31. “An efficient and inexpensive refrigerated LC system for H/D exchange mass spectrometry”, JASMS, 22(8), 1472-6, 2011 (with T. R. Keppel, M. E. Jacques, R.W. Young, and D. D. Weis).
  32. “Design and Initial Performance of the Askaryan Radio Array Prototype eeV Neutrino Detector at the South Pole”, Astropart. Phys, 35, 457-477, 2012 (with the ARA Collaboration).
  33. “Updated results from the RICE experiment and future prospects for ultra-high energy neutrino detection at the south pole,” Physical Review D – Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology, 85(6), 062004, 2012 (with I. Kravchenko and co-workers.)
  34. “Design and Deployment of the Askaryan Radio Array South Pole Autonomous Renewable Power Stations,” RE&PQJ, X(11), 2013.

Books and Chapters

  1. "Concepts, Approaches, and Capabilities of Laboratory Computers," in The Laboratory Computer Coursebook and Catalog, American Chemical Society Chicago Section, 1981.
  2. "Computer Science and the New Small Computer," in Computer Education of Chemists, P. Lykos, Ed., Wiley, New York, 1984.
  3. "UV-Visible Spectrophotometry," in Spectroscopic Methods of Analysis for Molecules, G. Christian and J. Callis, eds., J. Wiley, New York, 1986.
  4. An Introduction to Computer-Assisted Experimentation, Wiley-Interscience:  New York, January, 1987.
  5. "The Role of the Microcomputer," in Practical Guide to Chemometrics, S. J. Haswell, ed., Dekker, 1992 (with E. H. Ratzlaff).
  6. Charge-Transfer Devices in Spectroscopy,  VCH: New York, 1995. (co-edited with Jonathan Sweedler and M. Bonner Denton).
  7. "Computer/Instrument Interfacing," in What Every Chemist Should Know About Computing, T. Zielinski and May Swift, eds., ACS Press: Washington, D.C., 1997.

Invention Disclosures

  1. “Security System for Personal Computers,” 1999 with Ricardo Roggero and Michael Gusick.
  2. “Personal Data Recorder,” 2003 with Troy Zarcone and Alan Hase.
  3. “Power Supply/Electrochemical Detection System for Capillary Electrophoresis on a Chip,” 2003 with John P. Ledford.
  4. “Spin Control System for Solid State NMR,” 2008 with Robert W. Young. (In production for Revolution NMR.)
  5. “Millimeter-Resolution Mouse Force Tracker,” 2011 with Robert W. Young, Stephen C. Fowler and George R. Fullen. (Provisional patent, 2011; patent application filed August 1, 2012.)


Biochemistry & Protein Science

Bioinformatics & Modeling


Materials Characterization

Molecular Structures

Translational Biology

Ability to set up 24 NMR experiments at one time and eliminate periodic user intervention
Screen up to 100,000 compounds in two days for endpoint assays
Next-generation genome sequencing
Near-infrared and bioluminescence imaging instrumentation to track gene of interest and/or tumor growth
Expertise in the design and stability of various pharmaceutical dosage forms
More than 40 computational chemistry software programs and databases
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