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PTB Annual Report 2017


After nearly 130 years of service, the international prototype of the kilogram is expected to be retired in the fall of 2018 (at the General Conference on Weights and Measures). The Avogadro experiment, which aims to determine the number of atoms contained in a near-perfect silicon sphere, is a cornerstone of the redefinition of the kilogram.

“The German Council of Science and Humanities confirms the leading worldwide position of PTB, its excellent execution of tasks and great economic relevance”. That was the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Brigitte Zypries’s, comment in February on the final report of the evaluation of PTB by the German Council of Science and Humanities, combined with congratulations to PTB on the occasion of “this excellent result.” The report goes on to say: “The German Council of Science and Humanities praises both the execution of the legal core tasks, the research activities and services of PTB and also the necessary strategy and planning processes required for both aspects.” The German Council of Science and Humanities identified “the very high motivation and enthusiasm of the employees for their work” as the basis for this successful work. I’d like to greatly thank all PTB employees for that. You should all be proud of your achievements!


In addition, the German Council of Science and Humanities has addressed future challenges, especially in the area of digitalization. “Due to the central role of PTB in metrology, PTB will also play a key role in the digital transformation of the economy, industry and society.” This role of metrology in digitalization was specifically identified through a largescale PTB study, based on talks with all of the relevant partners and visits to NIST and NPL, and received the highest international attention. Human resources are necessary for this. In the meantime, a staff office and also a project steering group for the coordination of all activities in this area were established, strategically important work in different departments was reinforced, and two junior professorships for innovative topics – “reference architecture” and “machine learning” – were announced at the TU Berlin as a part of the Einstein Center in Berlin. It was possible to start a number of strategically important initiatives, from “the digital calibration certificate” to the establishment of project groups for a “customer platform” and “software platforms for collaborative work” up to the preparation of the basis of a “European metrology cloud”.

The digital transformation of legal metrology can only be achieved if the inner processes are digitalized and if PTB’s internal and external IT networks and services work together in an optimal manner. During intensive talks with the overall project management of the “Federal IT consolidation” project, PTB was able to achieve an agreement for a so-called “quick check” with the intention of identifying the share of our IT Department that cannot be consolidated as quickly and reliably as possible. We estimate that less than 10 % of our IT systems can be centrally handled through consolidated IT services. Accordingly, over 90 % of our IT activity needs to remain the direct responsibility of PTB. Furthermore, we are well on our way in terms of research data management – for which the first guidelines were formulated – and also in terms of the digitalization of administrative processes using “e-files”. I would like to request all PTB employees to actively participate – PTB wishes to and can take on a pioneering role!

The current challenges in legal metrology concern the economically important measurement of wood and wood moisture as well as the timely and ambitioned adoption of the guidelines for charging stations for e-mobility and especially concern the implementation of the German law on metering point operation (Messstellenbetriebsgesetz). PTB is strongly involved here as one of the responsible bodies for the planning of the respective technical guideline and the conformity assessment of smart meter gateways. Beyond that, there has been a new directive for exhaust fumes of vehicles with very ambitious metrological and time-critical requirements since September 2017. This has resulted in an overarching adaption of PTB activities in the area of metrology for emissions which can only be offered with additional personnel. Not only the reduction of the limits for CO and smoke opacity by 1 January 2019, but also particularly the first introduction of particle limits for emissions tests for diesel car motors by 1 January 2021 present great challenges which could not be managed by PTB without comprehensive and foresighted planning, often financed by third parties. This shows once again how important farsighted, preparatory research is for the fulfillment of our tasks.

The great respect for PTB in the area of legal metrology, not least at an international level, is demonstrated by the election of our Vice President, Hon. Prof. Dr. Schwartz, as the future President of the International Committee for Legal Metrology (CIML).

The revision of the International System of Units is making great strides. After intense discussions, especially in the Consultative Committee for Units (CCU) chaired by PTB and, following that, also in the International Committee of the Metre Convention (CIPM), a clear recommendation for a revision by the General Conference in 2018 was made. PTB played a decisive role, especially in the determination of Planck’s constant within the scope of the Avogadro cooperation project and also for the Boltzmann constant. Both experimental methods are not established at other national metrology institutes; however, their successful application was an absolute prerequisite for the revision especially because of this. It will now be a matter of carrying on innovative methods on a wide front based on the revised SI, such as noise thermometry, current measurement by counting single electrons, or a watt balance which meets industrial requirements.

The implementation of the master plan for the Braunschweig and Berlin sites is coming along quickly, even if not as quickly as expected. The groundbreaking for the research building for temperature and superconductivity (the Walther Meißner Building), the topping- out ceremony of the Willy Wien Laboratory at the Metrology Light Source (MLS) in Berlin-Adlershof and the completion of Euler Building I as the first part of the new “Wind Energy Center” were milestones. Workers are pressing ahead to realize the planned Euler Building II, Einstein Building II for optics and additional laboratory space for emissions measurements.

Other fields which will be important in the future such as metrology for biochemistry, metrology for the energy transition or nanometrology are continually being developed. This especially applies to the topic of quantum technology which will be funded with 1 billion euros by the EU over the next ten years. A workshop on this topic with industrial enterprises, hosted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and PTB, led to the suggestion of creating a competence center at PTB. On the same topic, a preliminary application for the excellence initiative, which was jointly submitted by the Leibniz University of Hanover and the TU Berlin with metrology and PTB as the decisive link, received a positive pre-assessment. Here, an internationally unsurpassed strategic and structural competence triangle of “quantum- nano-metrology” is planned.

For the first time, an “Employees’ Day” took place at PTB. The business psychologist and guest speaker Prof. Florian Becker emphasized during his lecture entitled “You’ve got the power” that this type of event was usually a rarity at other institutions. Following the motto “Getting actively involved”, the PTB employees discussed topics at various tables and made concrete suggestions for improvements. Due to the great success of the event (as expressed by all the participants), an “Employees’ Day” is also planned for next year, greatly adding to our portfolio of activities to develop our leadership culture at PTB.

PTB was recently extraordinarily successful in the acquisition of projects within the scope of the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR). The Europe-wide, transnationally coordinated research will also be highly important for the fulfillment of PTB’s tasks in innovative fields and, because of this, PTB immensely contributed to the discussions on the structure of a successor program. Following a brainstorming meeting of the presidents of all of the European metrology institutes at the beginning of the year at the Berlin Institute, the sustainable establishment of European network structures for strategically important metrological topics (such as in chemistry or digitalization) were identified as an especially important element of the successor program.

Setting up a functional quality infrastructure (QI) with metrology as a cornerstone is the trademark of the International Cooperation department at PTB, which has helped establish the term QI worldwide. The PTB department co-organized so-called “side events” for QI at the 6th Global Review of Aid for Trade of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, at the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn and for the “African Year of Quality Infrastructure”, for the latter during the festivities for the 70th anniversary of the National Metrology Institute of South Africa. Especially in Africa, which Germany has made one of the focus points of its G20 presidency, PTB has been successfully dedicated to this field for many years. Most importantly, PTB is establishing overarching structures such as the regional metrology organization AFRIMETS and the Pan African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI) forum.

Not only due to its increasing significance and the related increase in staff of the International Cooperation, Information Technology and Technical Infrastructure Departments, the former Division Q, Scientific-technical Cross-sectional Tasks was divided into Division Q, Cross-sectional Services and the new Division 9, Legal and International Metrology. PTB will now be able to not only increase its impact and efficiency in both legal and international metrology but also in the areas of information technology and providing an increasingly complex technical infrastructure.

As always, you will find a great number of highlights in this report such as the grand opening of a DFG Core Facility for the “Metrology of ultra-low magnetic fields” based on the unique worldwide measurement and competence of PTB in this field, the festivities for the 40th anniversary of the German Calibration Service, the first digital twin in weighing technology, the most precise study on the interaction of wind energy systems with navigational and radar facilities and much more.

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all PTB employees for their committed, reliable, competent and responsible work in all areas. The respectful treatment of others, the acceptance of responsibility at all levels, an eagerness to help inside and outside PTB, the orientation towards customers and flexibility are not only the key to success but also – and possibly more importantly – the basis of satisfying daily work and are completely in line with the motto of our Employees’ Day: “You’ve got the power”!


Printversion des Jahresberichts

Aus den Abteilungen

Aus den AbteilungenAus den Abteilungen

Mechanik und Akustik (Abteilung 1)

Elektrizität (Abteilung 2)

Chemische Physik und Explosionsschutz (Abteilung 3)

Optik (Abteilung 4)

Fertigungsmesstechnik (Abteilung 5)

Ionisierende Strahlung (Abteilung 6)

Temperatur und Synchrotronstrahlung (Abteilung 7)

Medizinphysik und metrologische Informationstechnik (Abteilung 8)