National Physical Laboratory

What is metrology? (FAQ - Quantum)

The word metrology is derived from the Greek word `μετρον', `metron': to measure. It was originally used to describe precise measurement of linear dimensions of an object and many of the earlier (post-war) engineering textbooks make extensive use of the term. It is therefore hardly surprising that the SI unit of length, the metre, is also derived from the same Greek word `metron'. During the late fifties and early sixties the word became increasingly broadened in its meaning and it was used as a general descriptor for all types of precise measurement. Other stems were compounded with it in order to describe this and to form sub-sets. Phrases such as `length metrology', `electrical metrology', `quantum metrology' etc. gradually came into common use.

Last Updated: 25 Mar 2010
Created: 9 Aug 2007

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