Logo PTB
Der Eingangsbereich der PTB in Braunschweig

Facts about PTB

PTB is the National Metrology Institute of Germany with scientific and technical service tasks. PTB measures with the highest accuracy and reliability – metrology as the core competence. PTB stands for progress and reliability in metrology for the benefit of society, trade and industry, and science.


PTB's oldest building at night
PTB's oldest building, the "Observatory"

Abbestraße 2-12, 10587 Berlin-Charlottenburg, phone: +49(0)30 3481-0

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(Quellenangabe: Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt)
(Quellenangabe: Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt)

Willy Wien Laboratory with the Metrology Light Source: Magnusstr. 9, 12489 Berlin

BESSY II, Albert-Einstein-Str. 15, 12489 Berl

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A total of approx. 1900 employees work at PTB, 1500 of them in Braunschweig.

Prof. Dr. Joachim Hermann Ullrich, Präsident der Physikalisch-Technischen Bundesanstalt

President: Prof. Dr. Joachim Ullrich


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PTB consists of 9 scientific-technical divisions. Two of them, Division 7 (Temperature and Synchrotron Radiation) and Division 8 (Medical Physics and Metrological Information Technology) are located in Berlin. The divisions of PTB are subdivided into approx. 60 departments and approx. 200 working groups.

Division 1: Opens internal link in current windowMechanics and Acoustics

Division 2: Opens internal link in current windowElectricity

Division 3: Opens internal link in current windowChemical Physics and Explosion Protection

Division 4: Opens internal link in current windowOptics

Division 5: Opens internal link in current windowPrecision Engineering

Divisiong 6: Opens internal link in current windowIonizing Radiation

Division 7: Opens internal link in current windowTemperature and Synchrotron Radiation

Division 8: Opens internal link in current windowMedical Physics and Metrological Information Technology

Division Q: Opens internal link in current windowScientific-technical Cross-sectional

Division Z: Opens internal link in current windowAdministrative Services

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Annual budget

Total budget: approx. 185 million euros

Additional third-party funds raised for research projects: approx. 15 million eu

Together with Opens external link in new windowNIST (USA) and the Opens external link in new windowNPL(Great Britain), PTB ranks among the worldwide leading institutes of metrology (metrology = the science of exact measurement). As Germany's national metrology institute, PTB is Germany's highest authority when it comes to correct and reliable measurements.

In the Units and Time Act (Federal Law Gazette, volume 2008, part I, No. 28, p. 1185 ff., 11 July 2008), all tasks related with the realization and dissemination of the units have been assigned to it. All legally relevant aspects of the units as well as the competencies of PTB have been combined in this Act.

PTB's tasks are the determination of fundamental and natural constants, the realization, maintenance and dissemination of the legal units of the SI, and safety technology – supplemented by services such as the Opens external link in new windowGerman Calibration Service (Deutscher Kalibrierdienst, DKD) and metrology for the area regulated by law, for industry, and for technology transfer. As the basis for its tasks, PTB conducts fundamental research and development in the field of metrology in close cooperation with universities, other research institutions, and industry.

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1887: Foundation of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (PTR) in Berlin on the basis of the ideas of Werner von Siemens and Hermann von Helmholtz and on their joint initiative. Helmholtz is nominated the PTR’s first president.
1898: First legal tasks: realization and maintenance of the electric units; testing of instruments for measuring electric quantities.
1950: Foundation of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Braunschweig.
1953: Eingliederung der PTR in Berlin-Charlottenburg als „Institut Berlin“ in die PTB.
1977: Staat und Wirtschaft gründen den Deutschen Kalibrierdienst (DKD) zur staatlich zertifizierten Kalibrierung von Normalen und Messgeräten, dessen Leitung bei der PTB liegt.
1990: Assumption of some of the tasks of the metrology department of the "Amt für Standardisierung, Messwesen und Warenprüfung" (ASMW, Agency for Standardization, Metrology and Commodities Testing) of the former German Democratic Republic. At this point in time, PTB has a staff of 2,000.
2002: Evaluation of the PTB by an expert committee appointed by the Federal Ministry of Economics.
2008: PTB is evaluated by the Science Council by order of the Federal Government - with excellent results.
2012: 125 years exactly: PTB looks back on a 125-year-old (success) story in March 2012 – with an international symposium and a festive ceremony in the Braunschweiger Stadthalle (Braunschweig Civic Centre)