National Physical Laboratory

Measurement Services

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Measurement Services

NPL is the UK's National Measurement Institute, charged by the UK government to carry out research into innovative new measurement techniques, technology and best practice.

Download a copy of our 2015 Measurement Survey

Case Studies

Breath monitors independently verified

Measurement to improve passenger vehicle performance

NPL's quality service business goes global

Our services are designed to meet the most challenging measurement requirements and to give customers the technical edge needed to be truly world-class.

We take pride in being able to solve business-critical problems for our global client base as responsively and affordably as possible.

The NPL Measurement Services brochure has been updated recently to include a number of new services that are creating considerable interest in the marketplace.

Contact Measurement Services

Phone: +44 20 8943 7070

Contact us

Meet the team


The Bio-diagnostics group at NPL is able to combine state of the art facilities with experienced staff to offer cost effective services to industry in four key areas:

  • assay development support
  • regulatory support and reference standards
  • innovative platform technologies
  • underpinning metrology

Whether you are looking to develop a new bio-diagnostic assay system or looking to improve an existing assay to ensure the highest accuracy and precision, NPL's bio-diagnostics group can help.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8637


Bio-diagnostics Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental measurement scientists at NPL provide high quality, cost effective pollution monitoring and analysis services.

NPL has an international reputation and track record based upon years of underpinning research. We also offer a range of services and gas standards for the calibration of gas analysers.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 7067


Environmental Monitoring Services, Instruments and Artefacts


Force measurement is of fundamental importance to many industrial sectors. Product liability and safety issues demand that force measurements are traceable to national standards. Competitive advantage can be gained from accurate force measurement.

NPL offers traceable calibration services measurement and testing facilities with capabilities from 1.5 N to 30 MN. NPL offers a wide-ranging UKAS accredited force calibration service using the UK's national force standard machines – this offers our customers direct traceability to national standards.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6315


Force Services, Instruments and Artefacts


The standards maintained by NPL provide the UK reference for humid air mixing ratio, dew point, relative humidity and related quantities. These humidity calibrations provide measurement traceability to sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronics, instrumentation, power generation, telecommunications and precision engineering, as well as for general calibration and testing laboratories.

NPL can calibrate diverse humidity instruments, including relative humidity sensors, dew-point hygrometers, psychrometers, spectrometers, humidity generators, climatic chambers and others. Calibrations of air temperature sensors are also provided. Mobile facilities enable NPL to carry out humidity calibrations or measurements at customer premises. We continue to develop and extend our capabilities according to demand.

NPL also provides a highly regarded humidity training course; humidity measurement advice and consultancy; in-depth measurement studies; and design and construction of humidity generators.

Find out more about NPL's Humidity research

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6245


Humidity Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Mass & Density

Accurate measurement of mass is vital in a wide range of applications from product design to ensuring compliance with health and safety requirements.

NPL provides a calibration service for standard weights of all OIML classes and provides high accuracy, traceable precision mass measurements for all manner of artefacts.

Our range of consultancy work includes advice on all aspects of mass measurement and 'hands-on' training in mass metrology.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6151


Mass & Density Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Biomaterials

Expertise can be provided in materials science and physical chemistry for biomaterial applications, and cell biology.

Research and implementation of innovative methods for biomaterials measurement is undertaken to support UK industry.

NPL realises the primary standard for sound pressure in the UK and disseminates this through a range of calibration services for acoustical instrumentation, which provide traceability for the wide range of acoustical measurements that need to be conducted, leading to greater confidence and good practice in measurement.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Biomaterials Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Electrochemical

Measurement techniques are available to support the development and manufacture of new products, improve reliability and predict lifetime of components.

Electrochemical measurements include testing of fuel cells and fuel cell components, spatial mapping of photovoltaic conversion efficiency, local scanning electrochemical techniques and standard bulk electrochemical techniques such as cyclic voltammetry and impedance spectroscopy.

The team can offer key support to industry to understand the performance and durability of electrochemical energy conversion materials and devices.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Electrochemical Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Modelling

Thermodynamic modelling and the calculation of phase Equilibria (MTDATA), finite element and finite difference simulation, structural and thermal modelling can be carried out to support Industry.

Various techniques such as quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics, multi-physics, multi-scale, thermodynamic and FEA computational may be applied to assess material properties and behaviour at the molecular, micro and macro scales. Some software solutions are also available.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Materials Modelling Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Piezoelectric, Dielectric & Magnetic

Work is focused in determining functional material properties in piezoelectric materials, magnetic materials, multiferroics, and electronic ceramics.

Magnetic measurements can be carried out on a wide variety of magnetic materials. The parameters and ranges offered are continuously developed to meet the needs of new applications and measurement standards.

All measurement services are UKAS accredited. Consultancy on the choice of magnetic material and magnetic circuit design, as well as other magnetic related issues, is available.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Piezoelectric, Dielectric & Magnetic Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Surface Engineering

NPL offers macro to nano-scale measurements of the mechanical and tribological properties of surfaces, coatings and small volumes of material.

Tests include surface texture, friction, wear, coating integrity, thickness, adhesion, fracture properties, hardness, elastic modulus and the measurement of residual stress.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Surface Engineering Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Nanoparticle Characterisation

NPL supports nanoparticle manufacturers and companies developing novel nanoparticles and nanoparticle-based products through a wide range of measurement services enabling advanced characterisation and QA. An expanding range of properties can be reliably determined for nano-powders (e.g. morphology, primary particle size, surface chemistry), colloidal suspensions in various liquid media (e.g. hydrodynamic size distribution, concentration, Zeta-potential), aerosols created from either powder or liquid suspension (e.g. aerodynamic size distribution) and airborne nanoparticles (e.g. aerodynamic size distribution, chemical composition).

Access to state-of-the-art capability and expertise in nanoparticle characterisation is available from a multidisciplinary team cross NPL, which allows us to tailor the analysis of nanoparticles to the needs of our clients and provide consultancy on any aspect of product development and characterisation. For example, the physical and chemical characterisation of nanoparticle catalysts can be coupled with analysis of their electrochemical activity, whilst antibody conjugated nanoparticles can be analysed in functional assays – for example, lateral flow and flow cytometry. We also offer comprehensive support in the development of protocols for the dispersion of nano-powders in liquid media, as well as aerosolization of nano-powders and colloidal solutions.



Nanoparticle Characterisation Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Optical Characterisation of Materials

NPL's support for the optical technology sector includes a comprehensive range of calibration and measurement services including reflectance, transmittance and materials characterisation.

In addition, NPL offers training, consultancy and contract research covering all aspects of optical radiation metrology, these include the growing area of appearance and natural perception of materials.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6151


Optical Characterisation of Materials Services, Instruments and Artefacts


NPL designs and supplies calibrated precision scales for the validation of image analysis and vision measurement systems.

An important factor in achieving accurate production of spectacle lenses is the maintenance of consistent standards of lens power in the ophthalmic examination, lens manufacture and subsequent spectacle fitting. Consistent measurements of power may be assessed in all these stages by using focimeters and spherometers which have been calibrated with suitable reference lenses.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6245


OpticsServices, Instruments and Artefacts

Radiation Dosimetry

NPL deals with the dosimetry of x- and γ-rays, and charged particles such as electrons and protons. We develop, maintain and disseminate the UK national measurement standards for these radiations and engage in research on radiation interactions to address the needs of industry, healthcare and government.

NPL is also involved in promoting the role of traceability in quality assurance, international and national specifi cation standards and measurement protocols, for radiation dosimetry, for example through training.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8695


Radiation Dosimetry Services, Instruments and Artefacts

RF & Microwave Free-Field

RF and microwave free-field measurements are vital to many industrial sectors, including aerospace, telecommunications, automotive, defence and EMC.

To meet these needs, NPL has developed a comprehensive range of facilities and measurement techniques for calibrating and testing in the frequency range 20 Hz to 110 GHz.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8637


For Loop Antennas Power Flux Density and Field Strength Probes, please contact:

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8715

RF & Microwave Free-Field Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Surface & Nanoanalysis

Surface analysis techniques are key to understanding and characterising surfaces used in today's high technology and innovative industries from the microscale to the nanoscale.

The internationally leading Surface and Nanoanalysis group is able to offer cost effective solutions to a wide range of problems in areas such as aerospace, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, health, personal care, packaging, electronics, IT equipment, polymers, sensors, transport, biofilms and nanoparticles using the latest instrumentation. Our expertise is based upon the underpinning scientific research we perform in the fields of innovation, trade, industrial competitiveness and quality of life.

Customer Service email:

Surface & Nanoanalysis Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Time & Frequency

Home of the nation's atomic time scale, NPL is the focus for time and frequency measurements in the UK.

The UK atomic time scale UTC (NPL) is based on an ensemble of hydrogen masers and caesium atomic clocks. These are used to contribute to international atomic timescales and to provide the reference for time and frequency dissemination and monitoring within the UK. We have also developed a caesium fountain primary frequency standard to provide the top-level realisation of the SI unit of time, the second.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6796


Time & Frequency Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Underwater Acoustics

The applications of underwater sound span positioning, communications, navigation, echo sounding, geophysical surveying, water quality measurement, sonar, weapons systems, and tomographic measurements of ocean currents and temperature.

Underwater acoustics is a key underpinning technology in offshore oil and gas activities, is increasingly used in oceanographic and environmental studies, and continues to play a crucial role in marine defence. In addition, the accurate measurement of anthroprogenic noise is key to the assessment of its effect on marine life.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8631


Underwater Acoustics Services, Instruments and Artefacts


The Bio-analytical group brings together experienced, research-orientated staff with an impressive range of instrumentation and facilities that allows us to support companies working in the drug development and manufacturing sectors.

We offer many contract analysis and research services focusing on the structure, activity and physical properties of biotherapeutic products.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8637


Bio-Analysis Services, Instruments and Artefacts


The great majority of industrial processes and instruments rely on electrical measurements of one form or another.

Whether the high power electrical measurements that support the multibillion pound UK electricity market, or measurements of the atto-Farad capacitance levels which exist between individual cells are sufficient to quantify DNA, traceable applied electrical measurements are key to their success.

In support of such technology and industries, NPL develops and applies standards and methodologies to provide traceable electrical measurements from DC to 1 MHz and beyond covering voltage, current, impedance and power, magnetic materials and instruments.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 7166


DC & LF Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Dimensional - Specialist Inspection Services

NPL offers a fast response service for difficult to measure components that require highly skilled techniques traceable to National Standards. The service provides high-confidence inspection results within timescales that critical production cycles demand.

We also offer a variety of products ranging from on-demand services to temporary or permanent outsourcing of customers' high-end inspection capabilities.

Specialist Inspection Services

  • First principles measurement to customers' drawings
  • Development of specific CMM programmes for parts with complex features and tight tolerances
  • Correlation of on-table and CMM results and supporting CAD data
  • Supply of First Article Inspection Reports
  • Independent verification of complex components with very high tolerance features
  • Inspection of surface structures and surface finish production of final inspection reports
  • Verification of CMM performance
  • Development of novel measurement and inspection techniques
  • Resolution of measurement related disputes

Customer Service tel: +44 (0)1484 505713

Fibre Optics & Photonics

NPL's support for the optical technology sector includes a comprehensive range of calibration and measurement services for all types of optical fibre, fibre and photonic components in addition to supplying artefacts for the calibration of fibre optic test instrumentation.

The breadth of our capability is sufficient to cover most fibre optic and photonic requirements.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 7166


Fibre Optics & Photonics Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Gases & Gas Analysis

NPL specialises in producing an extensive range of gas calibration standards through a chain of direct comparisons to the national measurement standards.

This ensures amount fractions of guaranteed uncertainty and measurement traceability at national and international levels.

The current range of standards provides ultimate references for highly accurate measurements of ambient air quality, natural gas, industrial emissions, vehicle and aircraft emissions, odour measurement and occupational exposure.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6151


Gases & Gas Analysis Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Laser Interferometry & Frequency Stabilised Lasers

Laser interferometer systems are widely used in industry for direct precision measurement of length and displacement, particularly in relation to CNC machine tool and co-ordinate measuring machine calibration.

NPL offers a routine service for the verification of interferometer system accuracy.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6315


Laser Interferometry & Frequency Stabilised Lasers Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Degradation & Life Prediction of Materials

The degradation of properties is important for predicting the lifetime of materials and components.

Accelerated tests are available to help understand the aging processes in materials under a variety of conditions.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Degradation & Life Prediction of Materials Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Mechanical Testing

The characterisation of all classes of materials, components and materials systems can be carried out over a range of temperatures.

Tests may be made on standard macro scale specimens, but increasingly miniaturised tests are being developed which can allow the testing of parts of manufactured components, where properties may vary with position.

Techniques and advice on non-destructive testing and structural health monitoring are also available.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Mechanical Testing Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Microstructural Characterisation & Analysis

NPL has an extensive range of advanced metallographic preparation and examination equipment, which underpins our materials testing as well as offering a one stop shop for microstructural characterisation.

Sample preparation expertise is available for a wide range of materials ranging from polymer composites to ceramics. Subsequent analysis and characterisation methods to International Standards or in-house procedures are available and many are accredited to ISO 17025 by UKAS. NPL actively participates in Standards Committees for the development of new characterisation and microstructural measurement techniques, which are directly traceable to primary standards.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Microstructural Characterisation & Analysis Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Nanomaterials

NPL provides a complete solution to your nanomaterials characterisation needs, by offering not just a broad range of techniques, but also access to the highly-skilled scientists who operate the tools on a day-to-day basis.

NPL focusses on developing traceable methods to measure a number of industry-critical parameters for nanomaterials:

  • Physical properties at the nanoscale
  • Transport in nanostructured materials
  • Surface interactions between nanocomponents
  • Nanoprobe system – used to measure electrical properties of materials at the nanoscale

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Nanomaterials Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Properties for Process Modelling

A range of measurements are available to provide data on thermal and fluid flow properties from sub-ambient to extremely high temperatures, under controlled atmospheres, for a wide range of materials.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Properties for Process Modelling Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Materials - Thermal Performance

NPL provides comprehensive, world class facilities (a number being unique within the UK) for measuring thermal properties including: thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, thermal transmittance, heat capacity and thermal expansion. Measurements are available from sub-ambient to extremely high temperatures, under controlled atmospheres, for a wide range of materials.

NPL provides technical experts on thermal measurement to a wide range of CEN, ISO, CIPM and Euramet Working Groups and has UKAS accreditation to ISO Guide 34 for the provision of reference materials and transfer standards used to calibrate commercial measurement apparatus. We are also a notified laboratory under the Construction Products Directive and can provide measurements suitable for certification of construction products.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8681


Thermal Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Neutron Measurements

NPL hosts world-leading facilities for measuring the neutron emission rate from radionuclide sources and for performing fluence and dose equivalent calibrations with monoenergetic neutrons, thermal neutrons, and broad energy range neutrons from radionuclide sources or a simulated workplace field.

Services include the characterisation and calibration of neutron detecting devices, in particular personal and area dosemeters, the measurement of radionuclide neutron source emission rates and anisotropy, and also field measurements of neutron spectra and dose equivalent quantities.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8637


Neutron Measurement Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Optical Sources & Detectors

NPL's support for the optical technology sector includes a comprehensive range of calibration and measurement services, including photometry and spectroradiometry, and displays.

In addition, NPL offers training, consultancy and contract research covering all aspects of optical radiation metrology - these include the growing area of low energy lighting and support to the requirements arising from the Artificial Optical Radiation Directive.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6151


Optical Sources & Detectors Services, Instruments and Artefacts

Pressure & Vacuum

NPL offers consultancy services, pressure standards for other laboratories, and an enquiry service for pressure and vacuum related issues.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6151


Pressure & Vacuum Services, Instruments and Artefacts


NPL is responsible for maintaining the UK primary standards of radioactivity, and disseminating these standards to users of ionising radiation in fields such as nuclear medicine, environmental radioactivity monitoring and nuclear decommissioning.

NPL also provides products and services to enable organisations to comply with legislation and good practice related to ionising radiation.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8695


Radioactivity Services, Instruments and Artefacts

RF & Microwave Guided Wave

RF and microwave guided wave measurement standards apply in transmission media, such as waveguide, coaxial lines, and planar lines in high frequency integrated circuits.

Power, attenuation, impedance and noise are the four main measurement parameters within this area, all of which underpin RF and microwave manufacturing and industry.

NPL offers a number of services within this sector at frequencies up to 110 GHz. NPL also offers measurement services for ultrafast (< 1 ns) electrical pulse generators and photodiodes, as well as high bandwidth (≥ 1 GHz) oscilloscopes.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8715


RF & Microwave Guided Wave Services, Instruments and Artefacts


Temperature is one of the most commonly measured properties in industry, medicine, meteorology, and everyday life. Accurate and traceable measurements affect many aspects of business such as materials processing, energy efficiency, medical diagnostics and food safety.

NPL offers the calibration of a range of temperature measuring devices including contact and non-contact instruments.

We also run training courses in temperature calibration techniques.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 6315


Temperature Services, Instruments and Artefacts


NPL provides a comprehensive range of Ultrasound calibration, measurement and consultancy services.

These cover hydrophones, transducers, radiation force balances and characterisation of medical and industrial ultrasonic equipment to meet the stringent requirements of testing for compliance with regulatory, safety and quality standards. They provide manufacturers and users with acoustic output information at all stages of product development and manufacture.

Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8631


Ultrasound Services, Instruments and Artefacts


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