Logo der PTB - Messen, Forschen, Wissen


„PTB is and remains the measure of all things“. With this visitors book entry which is as short as it is concise, Federal Minister Gabriel summarized the impressions he gained during his visit to PTB on 27 February 2014. After talks with the Presidential Board, a visit to the Avogadro Project‘s laboratory and a discussion with PTB staff in the lecture hall, he thanked all the PTB‘s employees for their strong commitment and emphasized PTB‘s international top position. Gabriele Heinen-Kljajić, Lower Saxo-ny‘s Minister of Science and Culture, said something very similar when she visited PTB on 23 September 2014. She confirmed that PTB is one of the most im-portant players on Lower Saxony‘s research scene and expressed her wish for the cooperation with the state‘s universities to continue at its high level in the future.

Perhaps the best news of the year is that it was pos-sible at least in part to change fixed-term employ-ment conditions based on special projects to perma-nent contracts. This happened not least as a result of the Federal Minister’s visit, as he advocated this issue after PTB staff members drew his attention to it. With job cuts being behind us, we can now once again take up long-term personnel policies. In total, about sixty members of staff were given permanent employment contracts – among them seven scien-tists through the newly created pool of jobs. The new scientists are now getting to know various ser-vice and research sectors of PTB in a comprehensive two-year trainee programme, before they then take on the work that is intended for them. In the selec-tion process, apart from putting their professional aptitude under the microscope, the applicants’ lead-ership skills and social competence were also looked at in a so-called “Assessment Center”; a very positive experience.

The Employee Satisfaction Survey 2014 was well received by staff and drew many individual com-ments. Apart from the all-round pleasing results – extraordinarily many PTB staff members are proud of working at PTB, feel fine in their group of col-leagues, praise the well-equipped facilities and the family-friendly working conditions – there were definitely fields with room for improvement. Future effort is particularly aimed at improving communi-cation with the Presidential Board as well as in gen-eral, developing leadership skills further, removing bureaucratic barriers as much as possible and fur-ther improving infrastructure and safety at work at PTB in a targeted way. Appropriate measures have been initiated.

A large milestone in the service sector and in the rendering of consultancy to policy makers is cer-tainly the final adoption of the Measures and Veri-fication Act, which came into force on 1 January 2015, combined with the establishment of the Regel-ermittlungsausschuss (Rule Determination Com-mittee) headed by PTB as well as the Konformitäts-bewertungsstelle (Conformity Assessment Body) at PTB. Under the leadership of the Vice President, their services encompass approximately 160 types of measuring instruments, ancillary equipment and peripheral devices, whose use in Germany has been placed under the protection of the new Measures and Verification Act. Doing this all in all underlines PTB’s key role in legal metrology and in placing measuring instruments which are not regulated in Europe on the market. This was not least impres-sively confirmed by the great interest in an informa-tion event organized by PTB which had more than 300 participants from industry as well as trade and professional associations.

New challenges relating to services have arisen, among other things, from stricter limiting values for the emission of diesel exhaust particles from motor vehicles in the Euro 5 standard, from the revision of the Gaming Ordinance, as well as from an incessant readiness to legally complain about speeding fines related to exceeding the admissible maximum speed limit. It has been possible to gain significant success in all these fields – by setting up a novel highly stable soot generator, by recruiting new members of staff for the approval of gaming machines as well as by targeted information events for public prosecutor’s offices supported by a decision of the Oberlandes-gericht (Higher Regional Court) Frankfurt am Main. This court confirmed that, as a matter of principle, courts can assume the correctness of measurement from devices approved by PTB and verified by the federal state authorities.

Services at the highest level, in photovoltaics, when characterizing new light sources or heat meters, in the field of climate research, when traceably meas-uring the components of blood serum in medical di-agnostics, in the type approval of the most advanced instruments, or when measuring neutron fluxes in the new fusion reactor in Greifswald – to name just a few instances – can only be performed reliably and promptly, if PTB undertakes its own intensive re-search and development at the forefront of all these fields.

The ratification of the European Metrology Pro-gramme for Innovation and Research, EMPIR, by the European Parliament and the Council of Min-isters this year is a milestone for coordinated met-rological research in Europe. In calls for proposals between 2014 and 2020 a total of some €600 million will be available over a running time of ten years in all. Twenty-eight European states will be involved in this. With a share of about 30 %, PTB will signifi-cantly contribute to European metrology holding a top position worldwide in the future.

Research in fields where a high metrological po-tential can be seen, but there are still many funda-mental issues to be resolved, such as in sub-fields of nano- and quantum metrology or in metrology for health, cannot be comprehensively pursued by PTB. Here, cooperation with universities is of great importance and expands our sphere of activities considerably. The recently established “Metrologie-Initiative Braunschweig” was thus further extended. A Research Training Group on nanometrology, NanoMet, which was jointly put forward with the TU Braunschweig was approved by the German Re-search Foundation (DFG), the construction work on the jointly operated research building LENA was started, the degree course “Messtechnik und Ana-lytik” (Metrology and Analysis) was newly estab-lished, a joint appointment in theoretical physics as well as the creation of a Young Investigator Group on nanometrology are well underway. Similar ac-tivities have been supported in our cooperation with Leibniz University Hannover. Here, the joint research building HITec, where the QUEST Insti-tute of PTB also operates labs, is practically ready. A Collaborative Research Centre, geo-Q, achieved an excellent assessment and has been approved. This research centre for relativistic geodesy was initiated with some other partners. Optical clocks of the next generation and highly precise time transmission play a key role in geo-Q. A connection of the newly appointed head of PTB’s “Medical Physics and Met-rological Information Technology Department” to the Charité in Berlin is being prepared.

PTB is increasingly taking on a crucial role in the efforts being made to redefine the International Sys-tem of Units (SI). The uncertainty in determining Planck’s constant was further improved in the scope of the Avogadro Project, so that now, together with a new value from the Canadian watt balance, two of the formal requirements for the redefinition of the kilogram have largely been met. A roadmap, drawn up with the Consultative Committees for Mass and for Units, stipulates an exact schedule until 2018. This is very ambitious according to current esti-mates, yet it can definitely be met. Measurements of the highest precision and with integrated error correction for the realization of the “new ampere” by means of single-electron pumps were honoured with the Hermann von Helmholtz Prize in 2014. This is deemed one of the most significant interna-tional awards in the metrology world. As the SI is to be based on fixed numerical values of fundamental constants in future, it is important to know whether these are, in fact, actually constant. PTB’s optical yt-terbium clock, which currently has the lowest un-certainty worldwide, also supplied among the most stringent limit values for possible changes of the fine-structure constant as well as of the ratio of the mass of the electron to that of the proton.

One highlight in international cooperation was not least the formal signature of an agreement on con-tinuing the 35-year-long cooperation between the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the Peo-ple’s Republic of China (AQSIQ).

I would like to thank all those whose commitment and dedication have contributed to PTB being one of the leading institutions providing metrological services and research nationally and internationally and doing, as such, justice to the highest demands a fact which is also reflected by Federal Minister Gabriel’s entry in our visitors book.