National Physical Laboratory

Optical Characterisation of Materials

Colour chart / pallette / swatches
Image courtesy of iStockphoto

Measurements of the optical properties of materials are widely used in many industries, e.g. chemical; pharmaceutical; cosmetic, textiles; optical components and coatings; food; aerospace; glass; energy; construction; and water treatment.

Other applications include: materials science; thermal control in buildings and spacecraft; infrared tracking and guidance systems; and environmental, health and military agencies. Measurement capabilities at NPL cover spectral transmittance (UV to NIR); reflectance (UV to 56 µm); colour, gloss, goniometric reflectance and texture/pattern.

A range of specially-designed calibrated reference standards is also available, including ceramic colour standards and polystyrene wavenumber standards. Recent research in this area has focused on the development of novel facilities and analysis methods to assess a range of visual appearance parameters and to link these to psychological aspects of perception.


Please note that the information will not be divulged to third parties, or used without your permission