The National Physical Laboratory

The National Measurement Institute: Providing the measurement capability that underpins the UK’s prosperity and quality of life

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the UK's National Measurement Institute (NMI) and a world-leading science and engineering asset. It ensures that the crucial ability to measure for research, innovation and the testing of new ideas is delivered accurately and complies with legislation.

Part of the UK Quality Infrastructure (UKQI), NPL houses state-of-the-art laboratories and unique measurement facilities that support over 5,000 customers each year through specialist products and services.

For example, NPL developed the world’s first reliable atomic clock, which provides confidence in timing for applications that range from financial trading and future comminutions to autonomous vehicles. It also built Alan Turing’s Automatic Computing Engine and developed packet switching, the communications technology that runs the internet.

Today, NPL provides confidence in measurements and data on everything from financial trading, drug dosage and climate change to 5G implementation. Current work includes focusing on the measurement needs that will underpin quantum technology, next-generation batteries, autonomous vehicles and synthetic biology.

There are 102 National Measurement Institutes around the world ensuring that infrastructure for measurement is traceable back to the International System of Units for Measurement. NPL is a public corporation owned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is part of the National Measurement System which delivers the UK Measurement Strategy on behalf of BEIS.

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