Navigation Links
UK takes the lead in redefining the kilogram
Date:2/20/2012

New research, published by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), takes a significant step towards changing the international definition of the kilogram which is currently based on a lump of platinum-iridium kept in Paris. NPL has produced technology capable of accurate measurements of Planck's constant, the final piece of the puzzle in moving from a physical object to a kilogram based on fundamental constants of nature. The techniques are described in a paper published in Metrologia on the 20th February.

The international system of units (SI) is the most widely used system of measurement for commerce and science. It comprises seven base units (metre, kilogram, second, Kelvin, ampere, mole and candela). Ideally these should be stable over time and universally reproducible, which requires definitions based on fundamental constants of nature. The kilogram is the only unit still defined by a physical artifact.

In October 2011, the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) agreed that the kilogram should be redefined in terms of Planck's constant (h). It deferred a final decision until there was sufficient consistent and accurate data to agree a value for h. This paper describes how this can be done with the required level of certainty. It provides a measured value of h and extensive analysis of possible uncertainties that can arise during experimentation. Although these results alone are not enough, consistent results from other measurement institutes using the techniques and technology described in this paper will provide an even more accurate consensus value and a change to the way the world measures mass possibly as soon as 2014.

Planck's constant is a fundamental constant of nature which relates the frequency (colour) of a particle of light (a photon) to its energy. By using two quantum mechanical effects discovered in the last 60 years: the Josephson effect and the quantum Hall effect, electrical power can be measured in terms of Planck's constant (and time).

A piece of kit called the watt balance - first proposed by Brian Kibble at the National Physical Laboratory in 1975 - relates electrical power to mechanical power. This allows it to make very accurate measurements of Planck's constant in terms of the SI units of mass, length and time. The SI units of length and time are already fixed in terms of fundamental and atomic constants. If the value of h is fixed, the watt balance would provide a method of measuring mass.

Dr Ian Robinson, who leads the project at the National Physical Laboratory, explains how the watt balance works: "The watt balance divides its measurement into two parts to avoid the errors which would arise if real power was measured. The principal can be illustrated by considering a loudspeaker placed on its back. Placing a mass on the cone will push it downwards and it can be restored to its former position by passing a current through the speaker coil. The ratio of the force generated by the current is fixed for a particular loudspeaker coil and magnet and is measured in the second part of the experiment by moving the speaker cone and measuring the ratio of the voltage produced at the speaker terminals to the velocity of the cone.

When the results of the two parts of the experiment are combined, the product of voltage and current (electrical power) is equated to the product of weight and velocity (mechanical power) and the properties of the loudspeaker coil and magnet are eliminated, leaving a measurement of the weight of the mass which is independent of the particular speaker used."

Measurements of h using watt balances have provided uncertainties approaching the two parts in one hundred million level, which is required to base the kilogram on Planck's constant. Thanks to improvements highlighted in the paper published today, measurements at the National Research Council in Canada, which is now using the NPL equipment, look set to provide considerably greater accuracy.

Another set of data comes from NIST, the USA's measurement institute. Currently the watt balance at NIST is showing slightly different results and the differences are being investigated. If the results are found to be consistent, it will be the start of the end for the physical kilogram.

A Planck based kilogram would mean a universal standard that could be replicated anywhere at any time. It will also bring much greater long-term certainty to scientists who rely on the SI for precise measurements, or on h itself. The watt balance would provide a means of realising and disseminating the redefined unit of mass.

Dr Robinson concludes: "This is an example of British science leading the world. NPL invented the watt balance and has produced an apparatus and measurements which will contribute to the redefinition. The apparatus is now being used by Canada to continue the work, and we anticipate their results will have lower uncertainties than we achieved, and the principle is used by the US and other laboratories around the world to make their own measurements."

"This research will underpin the world's measurement system and ensure the long term stability of the very top level of mass measurement. Although the man on the street won't see much difference - you'll still get the same 1kg bag of potatoes these standards will ultimately be used to calibrate the world's weighing systems, from accurate scientific instruments, right down the chain to domestic scales."


'/>"/>
Contact: David Lewis
david@proofcommunication.com
44-084-568-01865
National Physical Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. As personalized, genomic medicine takes off, four developing countries show the way for others
2. CEL-SCI Takes Delivery of New Manufacturing Facility
3. Breakthrough Technology Takes Egg Freezing from Myth to Dependable Reality
4. DuPont Takes Aggressive Actions to Strengthen Competitiveness and Increase Cash Flow
5. The Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) RV Tour Takes to the Road to Educate the Nation About the Importance of DVT Risk Assessment
6. BioStorage Technologies Takes Lead Sponsorship Role of 2nd Annual IIR Biorepositories Conference
7. Verenium 1:12 Reverse Stock Split Takes Effect
8. BioSpec Global Solutions Inc, takes delivery of new TOGs 3000 Home edition for the U.S. and international markets
9. Medizone International Takes Aim at the Bioterrorism Countermeasures Arena
10. New test takes guesswork out of diagnosing early stage Alzheimers disease
11. Case Western Reserve University-led team takes high resolution photo of a K+ channel
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2016)... WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... supplements, is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into ... for over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the ... a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the ... WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing ... for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed a ... serve as their official health care provider. As ... provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and most ... athletes and families. "We are excited ... to bring Houston Methodist quality services and programs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased ... and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/2/2016)... June 2, 2016   The Weather Company , an ... Ads, an industry-first capability in which consumers will be able ... to ask questions via voice or text and receive relevant ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution ... can be personal, relevant and valuable; and can scale across ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited ... with VoicePass. By working together, VoiceIt ...  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different approaches ... increases both security and usability. ... about this new partnership. "This marketing ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... Lithuania , May 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, ... released the MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification System ... of large-scale multi-biometric projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can process ... accuracy using any combination of fingerprint, face or ... MegaMatcher SDK and MegaMatcher Accelerator ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):