The great significance of an innovative and thus – also in future – competitive industry has been addressed again and again both at the national and at the international level. For example, the following fields are mentioned in the EU research program "Horizon 2020" as key enabling technologies (KETs) for innovative products: nanotechnology, micro and nano electronics, new materials, biotechnology, photonics and advanced production engineering, all of which are fields with a directly metrological relation. Furthermore, the current technological development in the field of information and communications technology (ICT), fired by the European and national "Digital Agenda", and especially the rapidly growing link of innovative production and information technology (Keyword: fourth industrial revolution, "Industry 4.0"), opens up completely new possibilities with a great challenge for metrology, not least also in legal metrology.
The efficient control of increasingly complex and, at the same time, flexible production processes within the scope of Industry 4.0 requires not only that the process parameters as well as any logistic information are known in detail but also that this knowledge is updated in real-time. The large number of sensors required for this purpose must, above all, provide reliable, exact measurement data and must communicate on the basis of standardized protocols, and the data obtained in this way must be merged in such a way that different measurement methods can be compared with each other – an all this obviously completely linked to the strongly growing requirements made on metrology.
PTB models sensors, measuring instruments and measurement sequences up to the so-called virtual measuring instrument. Thereby, the characteristics of the objects to be measured as well as the environmental conditions of the measurements are included in the determination of reliable measurement results including measurement uncertainties. Furthermore, it can be expected that methods of data fusion will be increasingly applied in future in order to compare the results of different measurement methods.
The high-precision dissemination of legal time by PTB is an important component of the general state infrastructure in Germany and Europe. Especially in the fields of traffic and communication, products and services are based on the use of precise information about time. Synchronizing distributed systems in the flexible production infrastructures of Industry 4.0 increasingly requires validated time information. In the case of innovative applications, e.g. for the generation of ultra-stable microwave frequencies for aerospace industry and terrestrial industry and for future measurement methods of geodesy, the traditional technologies of dissemination via long-wave frequency transmitters and satellites limit the precision of the time and frequency signals available at the user's, which can be derived by novel high-precision atomic clocks. Therefore, strategic point-to-point fiber optic links for modern time and frequency dissemination are required. These connections will form the backbone of a future European fiber optic network for time and frequency comparisons. PTB will drive this development forward within the scope of national research cooperation projects and together with its partners from selected metrology institutes in Europe.
In microsystem technology, semiconductor industry and nanotechnology, dimensional measurements of micro- and nanostructures, i.e. the determination of structure sizes and structure shapes, are important characterization methods. Ever smaller structures require measurement procedures with increased spatial resolution and a smaller measurement uncertainty as well as 3D measuring capability. Today, the measurement of critical dimensions of lithographic masks for the production of semiconductor elements requires uncertainties of less than 1 nm with continually increasing requirements, among other things, also in the field of characterization of functionally relevant micro components. The increased use of natural and artificial nanoparticles, e.g. in colors, cloths, foodstuff and cosmetics, requires the assessment of the risks which are potentially linked to nanoparticles. Reliable procedures for the characterization of the nanoparticles are an essential precondition for reliable research on possible risks, correct and socially accepted risk assessment which is based on it, and – finally – the legally secure enforcement of monitoring and protective measures. Improved methods for the determination of the size, shape and concentration of nanoparticles play an important role here. For this purpose, optical, electron-optical and X-ray optical measurement methods are constantly being improved at PTB, measuring instruments are specially further developed for these requirements and gaps are closed in the metrological traceability of industrially used particle measuring instruments. Furthermore, PTB strongly supports the development of lithography in the extreme EUV range at a wavelength of 13.5 nm – a future key technology of the semiconductor industry for the production of structure widths of less than 20 nm. By means of worldwide unique opportunities and instruments at the synchrotron radiation sources Metrology Light Source (MLS) and BESSY II, EUV optics, masks and detectors are characterized.
In general, it is PTB's strategy – besides the concentration on focal areas by providing state-of-the-art generic methods – to be able to react promptly to specific requirements from industry and society. There will be extended possibilities as of 2017 as soon as the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), which has been established through national and federal funds and is operated by TU Braunschweig in cooperation with PTB, takes up the all-out operation.
The requirements made on dimensional metrology of large components with dimensions of up to several meters, e.g. in the aerospace and aviation industries and especially also for wind energy plants, are constantly increasing. The testing of production and mounting tolerances of less than 0.1 mm at large components and at mounted systems requires new measurement methods for the functionally relevant dimensional parameters and the mechanical properties. New reference measuring facilities, in-process measurement technologies and procedures for inspection during use are required.
In Germany and Europe, a strong optical industry has been developed that produces special and high-end optics, machine tools and optical measuring instruments. Aspherical lenses and free-form surfaces are key components of these products. They are used to realize smaller designs of optics, e.g. cameras in mobile phones, and at the same time to improve their imaging performance. Methods of shape and structure measurement with nanometer accuracy on the optical function surfaces of free-form bodies have not yet been established and require metrological fortification.
Increasingly more economical and more efficient camera technology will reinforce the use of imaging metrology for non-contact temperature measurement, process monitoring, process control and process optimization as well as in the quality control of product components and systems in the industrial environment. Instead of having to successively scan a field of measurement points, a metrologically validated camera image can – immediately and more rapidly – provide the measurement information across a large surface. Multispectral cameras are other examples of technological innovation in imaging analysis on future markets, such as the recycling industry or in the field of autonomous driver assistance systems in the automotive industry. The characterization of imaging measurement methods requires specific measurands and new harmonized metrological approaches, for example to quantify the homogeneity of the response function of measuring instruments. Imaging metrology is also the basis for tomographic measurement procedures (CT) known from medicine, which are increasingly used for the detection of the 3D geometry of components to be investigated.
Inorganic and organic light-emitting diodes will be the light sources of the future and will largely replace – in ever greater variety – incandescent lamps and simple gas discharge lamps – a multibillion market with strong participation of German enterprises. Besides the determination of the energy efficiency of these light sources, the assessment of the light quality will become more and more important for industry and for market access, with high metrological requirements being made, for example on the determination of colorimetric parameters. Furthermore, the photobiological safety of the novel light sources must be ensured, which at the same time requires their characterization with high metrological precision.
Quantum cryptography is a promising and trendsetting technique to increase security in information technologies. Its commercial use has already been launched to a smaller extent. For the further development and a wider commercial use of this technology, a reliable metrology of single photon sources and detectors is indispensible. Furthermore, efficient single photon sources of undistinguishable photons make it possible to realize entangled photon pairs for completely new applications in the area of quantum-based metrology beyond the standard quantum limit.
The frequency range of millimeter and terahertz waves will be increasingly developed for new methods of the close-up range communication, safety technology, medical diagnostics, radar technology and climate research. This also entails an increased demand for metrological procedures for the field representation and for the determination of characteristic measurands for this frequency range. Furthermore, new metrological tasks will result during the development and characterization of reference materials, e.g. for the spectroscopic use of terahertz waves.
For innovative technologies in explosion protection, test procedures based on the modeling of safety-relevant ignition sources and combustion processes must be developed which contain special measurement tasks, for example the ignition risk due to optical radiation of laser and LED light sources or ignition by ultrasound. It is not a matter of priority to achieve the smallest possible measurement uncertainty, but it is a matter of priority to elaborate measurement procedures which, on the one hand, guarantee adequate safety of the tested instruments and, on the other hand, can subsequently be used by the explosion test centers at economically justifiable expenditure.