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PTB Annual Report 2019


Last year will stand out in the history of metrology as a special year: as the year in which the fundamentally revised International System of Units (SI) came into force. Lengthy and highly challenging research and development work, focusing on four of the SI units (the kilogram, mole, kelvin and ampere), came to fruition on 20 May 2019. From that date on, all these base units have been defined in the best way they possibly can be: as quantum measures. The scientific community acknowledged this in its own way, as proven by numerous invited lectures at international conferences and award-winning publications in prestigious specialist journals. At this point, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to all of my colleagues – from the individual divisions to the press office – for the great work that they put into this truly global project. The fact that the new SI has come into force does not only signify a goal that has been achieved, it also signals the starting point of another task that is no less challenging: These new definitions now have to be filled with life in practice, meaning that the units have to be passed on using this new foundation, and the inherent promise of technological innovations also has to be kept. We and all of our partners will certainly not run out of metrological work either now or in the more distant future.


Last year did not only look well into the future as far as the SI goes. At our Strategy Conference, we also identified fields of work that go beyond the boundaries of PTB’s divisions. We will better pool our metrological expertise in these fields of work both within PTB and externally, and we want to use this expertise more intensively for the good of the economy and society. The five fields of work we are referring to are “digitalization”, “quantum technologies”, “medicine”, and “energy” along with “the environment and climate”. All these terms define subjects of enormous social relevance, which already massively influence almost all parts of our lives and will do this to an even larger extent in the future. It is true that the scope of all these fields of work reaches far beyond metrology, but at the same time, these fields cannot be dealt with adequately or effectively without metrology. As a logical result of this, we are following a route that has structural consequences for PTB. By establishing corresponding Steering Groups, we will better coordinate our current and future activities in these fields of work and find out what they require from metrology. All these Steering Groups have now taken up their cross-divisional work. While doing so, they have been able, to varying degrees, to build on existing structures that were already well established. The “Big Five” will certainly be among the fields of work that will determine the routes that PTB will take in the long term.

A word that significantly shaped the past year in many ways is “trendsetting”. For example, it characterized the route that was taken in legal metrology, increasingly building on digitalized and virtualized metrological services. The whole field of quality infrastructure – with its pillars of metrology, standardization and accreditation – is experiencing a fundamental change that goes far beyond Germany and is significantly influenced by PTB. It is not only in Germany that work is being done on a “QI Digital” agenda. Within the Metre Convention, there is a working group headed by PTB which is advancing work on the “digital SI”. This is, among other things, taking place in close cooperation with the OIML, whose President, Mr. Schwartz, has placed digitalization on its agenda. Two international workshops, one organized by the CIPM and the other by the OIML, will, in 2020, determine the route for the future agenda of digitalization.

Much work was prepared for the future in 2019, and at the same time, last year gave us the opportunity to look back at many success stories. This included 30 years of cooperation with CENAM in Mexico, as well as the metrological cooperation between China and Germany that has existed for 40 years. Another noteworthy anniversary was related to telling the time, to be more precise, to telling the time with the atomic clock CS1. It began ticking 50 years ago and, so to speak, rang in the “quantum age of metrology”.

PTB will continue with this and other success stories, of that I am certain. This is because we are able to base our work on a wealth of expertise and experience, because our staff are highly committed and, above all, because there is a growing wider realization that, without metrology – especially in many future fields of application from 5G to hydrogen technology, autonomous driving and medicine – “nothing will work”.

If we want to stay as successful as reflected in our public image, we also have to frequently take a critical look inwards. Are we working with the right structures? Is everything being communicated properly and in a suitable way? Are we focusing on and do we value those who are essential to PTB – the people who actually do the work? For this very reason, we carried out an extensive staff survey last year. The results of this survey are now being analyzed. Once this has been done, we will use the results to develop follow-up measures.

My heartfelt thanks go to all of PTB’s staff for last year’s achievements. I sincerely hope that we will carry on doing those things that were successful and that we will remain just as committed to pursuing new things. In this way, we will all shape the future both in and with PTB.

Prof. Dr. Joachim Ullrich
Präsident der PTB

Printversion of Annual Report 2019

News of the Year 2019

News of the Year 2019News of the Year 2019

Aer years of research at the major metrology institutes, the international community has agreed on the revision of the International System of Units (SI) – this revision came into force on 20 May 2019, which was World Metrology Day.

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Symbol of the Digital Calibration Certificate

Based on a European research project, PTB has developed a Digital Calibration Certicate (DCC ) which fulfills all international requirements made on such a document. This was the first step towards a conversion from conventional paper-based calibration certificates to machine-readable documents.

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Graphic: Peter L. Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics (PLRI)

To date, data that can be life-saving in an accident has been saved separately in different places. A project initially planned for three years and funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Research and the Volkswagen Foundation with a budget of 1.2 million euros intends to change this. Within the framework of this project, TU Braunschweig, MHH (Hannover Medical School) and PTB will unite to form the...

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PTB’s flying measurement platform in front of a wind turbine

Wind turbines must undergo a lengthy approval process before being constructed; this process includes examining whether they may be a disturbance to terrestrial navigation systems in aviation. A modified prognosis tool now allows the interaction between wind turbines and Doppler VHF omnidirectional radio ranges (DVORs) to be measured with significantly greater accuracy. It has become clear that...

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The participants of the European Metrology Network “Traceability in Laboratory Medicine” kick-off meeting at PTB in June 2019

Under the auspices of PTB, twelve European metrology institutes have begun establishing a coordinated and service-oriented European infrastructure for metrology in the field of laboratory medicine: Under EURAMET’s responsibility, they founded the European Metrology Network “Traceability in Laboratory Medicine1.

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(From left to right): Prof. Dr. Martin Stratmann (President of MPG), Prof. Dr. Joachim Ullrich (President of PTB), and Prof. Dr. Motoko Kotani (RIKEN’s Executive Director for International Affairs) are pleased with the opening of the center.

A festive ceremony in Tokyo on 8 April marked the launch of research collaboration which will be dedicated to fundamental questions in physics. The partners are the Japanese research institute RIKEN, two Max Planck Institutes, and PTB. The three partners are financing the center, which is planned for a runtime of five years, equally with a total of approximately 7.5 million euros.

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Because photovoltaics (PV) is a key element of Germany’s future energy supply, PTB has applied for funds for the construction of a competence center for PV metrology within the scope of the German Federal Government’s 7th Energy Research Programme. Approval of 3.5 million euros has enabled PTB to establish a unique infrastructure of laboratory and field calibration procedures with the lowest...

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Visualization of the simultaneously measured micromotion amplitudes in a crystal of 14 trapped ytterbium ions spanning a length of approx. 400 μm. Within a recently developed high-precision ion trap, it was possible to reduce the resulting time dilation shift to less than 10<sup>−19</sup>.

Some of the currently most accurate optical clocks are based on trapped ions since they allow excellent control over systematic frequency shifts. To benefit from further reductions in the frequency uncertainty in practice, the averaging times of the next generation of trapped-ion clocks will, however, also have to be reduced. Researchers at the QUEST Institute of PTB have succeeded in...

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The experiment can be visualized as the quantum-mechanical version of a simple pendulum. In this case, the pendulum’s maximum deflection and number of oscillations per second are the two optimized measurands. Here, the pendulum has been realized via a single magnesium ion trapped in an ion trap.

Quantum sensors can reach sensitivity levels that are impossible to reach according to the laws of classical physics we know from our everyday lives. Such sensitivity levels can only be reached if we delve into the world of quantum mechanics with all of its fascinating characteristics. One such characteristic is the phenomenon of superposition, which states that objects can be in two places at...

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From Divisions (German only)

From DivisionsFrom Divisions

Mechanik und Akustik (Abteilung 1)

Bestimmung kleinster Dichteunterschiede von 28Si-Kugeln nach der Methode der Druckflotation.

Elektrizität (Abteilung 2)

Optisch angesteuertes pulsgetriebenes Josephson-Spannungsnormal: Schaltung mit 3000 Josephson-Kontakten (links) und schnelle Photodiode mit optischer Faser (rechts).

Chemische Physik und Explosionsschutz (Abteilung 3)

High-Speed Laserinduzierte Fluoreszenz

Optik (Abteilung 4)

Präzisions-Ionenfalle des neuen optischen Yb+-Frequenznormals.

Fertigungsmesstechnik (Abteilung 5)

Neuartiges Verfahren zur Kalibrierung von Gewinden unter der Verwendung eines ganzheitlichen Ansatzes

Ionisierende Strahlung (Abteilung 6)

3D Darstellung der Ortsdosisleisung eines technischen Röntgenstrahlers gemessen am Röntgenstrahlermessplatz der PTB.

Temperatur und Synchrotronstrahlung (Abteilung 7)

Langwegzelle für die optische Gasdruckmessung (PTB-Patent)

Medizinphysik und metrologische Informationstechnik
(Abteilung 8)

Fluoreszenzbild eines künstlichen Fußes (Phantom) zur Überprüfung der Funktionstüchtigkeit einer Fluoreszenzkamera zur Untersuchung von Durchblutungsstörungen.