Logo of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
Symbolbild "News"


for a modern PTB laboratory building in the former German Industrial Safety Museum in Berlin-Charlottenburg on August 13, 1996


Richtfest für ein modernes Laboratoriumsgebäude der PTB im ehemaligen "Deutschen Arbeitsschutzmuseum" in Berlin-Charlottenburg am 13. August 1996

The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) will extend its working facilities on the original PTB site in Berlin-Charlottenburg: The former German Industrial Safety Museum classified as a historical monument will be reconstructed as a modern laboratory building in which research work will be performed in two of the PTB's areas of work. Europe's most efficient heat meter test section will be installed for the Heat Measuring Techniques group, and a cabin shielded against magnetic interference fields, which will be installed for the Medical Measuring Techniques group, will be the most efficient one in the world and an essential prerequisite for a center for biomagnetic investigations. In cooperation with the Berlin University Hospitals and partners from industry, this center develops diagnostic techniques which do not put a strain on the patient and appear promising for the future. The topping-out ceremony will be held on August 13, after the building has been finished in the raw.

The German Industrial Safety Museum was constructed around the turn of the century. Its name has been derived from the "Permanent exhibition for workers' welfare and protection against accidents", an exhibition concerning the prevention of accidents, which was shown there until the building was gutted by fire in World War II. The complex of buildings is more than 100 m in length along its longitudinal axis and comprises an administration building, a tract with lecture halls, with a foyer on the ground floor, and an exhibition hall directly adjacent to it. It has been above all because of the unique structure of this hall that the building was classified as a historical building in 1986. Similar to a basilica, the hall has a nave cut by two transepts. Louvres accentuate the crossing points. This rather sacral style of architecture is in sharp contrast to the strictly technical construction of the hall: A filigree steel structure whose outer supporting framework has been filled with brickwork carries a glass roof through which the light pours into the hall almost 100 sqm in size. A prominent feature is a gallery extending along the interior walls.

The former Industrial Safety Museum which has belonged to the PTB since 1978 is now being reconstructed at an extraordinary expense (almost 80 million DM), with considerable technical sophistication and with a special sensibility as regards aspects of preservation. After completion of the construction work, about 50 of the 350 staff members of the PTB's Berlin Institute will work there. It has been envisaged to install in this building the most modern facilities for physical investigations in the fields of heat measuring techniques and medical measuring techniques.

In one part of the former exhibition hall, Europe's most efficient measuring facility will be set up, which will allow the Heat Measuring Techniques group to test the accuracy and reliability of heat meters with the aim of improving the checking of energy-saving measures taken in the heating of buildings. This facility will also be used to intensify the further development of such meters. Heat meters with an uncertainty of measurement of about 5% are still frequently used today. At present, the volume of district heat annually invoiced in Europe amounts to about 20 000 million DM. Profiting from this new facility, the PTB intends to reduce the uncertainties of heat measurement to 1% within the next few years, thus improving substantially the objectivity in the calculation of heating costs, in the interest of the consumers.

In the other part of the exhibition hall, a center for biomagnetic investigations will be set up for the Medical Measuring Techniques group. The PTB has long years of experience in two key technologies relevant in this context: the use of measurement rooms shielded against magnetic interferences and the development of highly sensitive magnetic field sensors (so-called SQUIDs: microscopically small superconducting sensors). The core of this center will be, among other things, a new measuring room shielded against magnetic interference fields, which will be able to suppress the earth's magnetic field and interfering alternating fields to an extent not yet achieved anywhere in the world. It will be possible in this shielded room and with the aid of the highly sensitive magnetic field sensors to measure the magnetic field generated by man, which is about one thousand million times lower than the earth's. Man's magnetic field is generated by extremely low currents in the human organism, which are connected with biological processes such as the control of the cardiac muscle or activities of the human brain. It is thus possible within the scope of a non-contact examination, without any strain being put on the human body (as is, for example, the case during X-raying), to localize any malfunctions of these organs, to represent them graphically on a screen and to diagnose their causes. That this diagnostic technique has a great potential as regards development and application has been proved by investigations successfully conducted in cooperation with physicians of the Benjamin Franklin University Hospital in Berlin-Steglitz, which were aimed at clarifying the causes of sudden cardiac death and diagnosing interruptions of nerve tracts in the case of paraplegia.