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Richard Brown

Richard Brown

NPL Senior Fellow

Professor Richard Brown is an NPL Senior Fellow and NPL’s Head of Metrology. 

Professor Richard Brown received his BSc in Chemistry (together with the Governors' Prize for Chemistry) and his PhD in Electrochemistry from Imperial College, London, in 1997 and 2000, respectively. Since then he has worked for NPL.

In 2009, Richard was awarded the 34th SAC Silver Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry "for his excellence in the application of measurement science to a variety of analytical chemistry problems. In particular, the areas of environmental analytical chemistry, electroanalysis and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy." He is a four times winner of the CITAC Award for the Most Important Paper in Metrology in Chemistry (2008, 2012, 2016 and 2018) for a variety of important analytical chemistry advances.

In 2012, Richard was awarded the Doctor of Science (DSc) Degree from Imperial College in 'The Application of Measurement Science to Environmental Analytical Chemistry for Air Quality Studies'.

Richard has published in excess of 250 peer-reviewed papers.

Richard is a Fellow of the Institute of Measurement and Control, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, a Chartered Chemist, Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Scientist, and holder of the European Chemist designation.

In 2015, Richard was made an NPL Fellow in Chemical Metrology and in 2017 he was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry's L S Theobald Lectureship, in recognition of his significant contributions to the analytical sciences.

In March 2018, Richard was appointed as the inaugural Head of Metrology at NPL, with accountability for ensuring the quality of NPL's scientific research and measurement service work.

In 2019 Richard was awarded the Oxburgh Medal by the Institute of Measurement and Control for contributions to measurement, instrumentation and control in the field of environmental science and engineering of outstanding merit.

In 2020 Richard was appointed as a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Surrey, concentrating on general metrology topics, quality assurance, metrological traceability, and confidence in measurement.

Richard received the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2020 Theophilus Redwood Award for excellence in theoretical and practical aspects of chemical measurement leading to the recent redefinition of the mole, and the communication of these changes.

In 2021 Richard was promoted to NPL Senior Fellow, NPL’s top scientific grade, in recognition of his internationally leading contributions across multiple science areas, his very significant role in the development of several aspects of NPL’s science, and his leadership in the evolution of NPL’s structures and processes.

Richard was awarded the 2022 Senior Scientist Medal of The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics’ (IUPAP) Commission on Symbols, Units, Nomenclature, Atomic Masses and Fundamental Constants (SUNAMCO) for his outstanding and sustained contributions to the development and promotion of the International System of Units.

In 2023 he received the Finkelstein Award of the Institute of Measurement and Control (2023) for outstanding leadership in measurement internationally, most notably for the expansion to the range of SI prefixes.

Current interests


Richard is leading work in the trace chemical analysis area to provide traceability for, and improve the accuracy of, measurements of pollutants in ambient air and other environmental matrices. He is also involved in research into complex data analysis and calibration techniques.

In addition, Richard is currently engaged in the fundamental study of chemical metrology and unit systems, and is actively involved in the ongoing development of the International System of Units (SI). In November 2022, four new SI prefixes, ronna (R) for 1027, quetta (Q) for 1030, ronto (r) for 10−27, quecto (q) for 10−30, developed and proposed by Richard, were approved by the CGPM for worldwide use.

Email Richard Brown

Recent publications

  1. Brown, R J C
    A further short history of the SI prefixes
    Metrologia, 2023, 60, 013001. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/ac6afd

  2. Brown, R J C
    The unusual status of the hectare in the SI
    Metrologia, 2022, 59, 062101. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/ac979f

  3. Brown, R J C
    Headline of the fifty-year newspaper: ‘Metrology, a multilateral endeavour, facilitates reproducibility in science’
    Measurement, 2022, 203, 112004. doi:10.1016/j.measurement.2022.112004

  4. Brown, R J C; Janssen, J T; Wright, L
    Why a digital framework for the SI?
    Measurement, 2022, 187, 110309. doi:10.1016/j.measurement.2021.110309

  5. Brown, R J C
    A metrological approach to counting quantities and the unit one
    Metrologia, 2021, 58, 035014. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/abf7a4

  6. Brown, R J C; Janssen, J T
    The value of stable, comparable and standardised measurement: enabling confidence in decision making for societal challenges
    Metrologia, 2021, 58, 033001. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/abe8e1

  7. Brown, R J C
    Metrologia, 2020, 57, 023001. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/ab6cd7
  8. G├╝ttler, B; Bettin, H; Brown, R J C; Davis, R S; Mester, Z; Milton, M J T; Pramann, A; Rienitz, O; Vocke, R D; Wielgosz, R I “Amount of substance and the mole in the SIMetrologia, 2019, 56, 044002. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/ab1fae
  9. Brown, R J C "Considerations on compound SI prefixes" Measurement, 2019, 140, 237-239. doi:10.1016/j.measurement.2019.04.024
  10. Brown, R J C "On the nature of SI prefixes and the requirements for extending the available range" Measurement, 2019, 137, 339–343. doi:10.1016/j.measurement.2019.01.059
  11. Brewer, P J; Brown, R J C; Tarasova, O A; Hall, B; Rhoderick, G C; Wielgosz, R I "SI traceability and scales for underpinning atmospheric monitoring of greenhouse gases" Metrologia, 2018, 55, S174–S181. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/aad830
  12. Brown, R J C "The evolution of chemical metrology: distinguishing between amount of substance and counting quantities, now and in future" Metrologia, 2018, 55, L25–L33. doi:10.1088/1681-7575/aaace8

More publications from Richard Brown can be found here:

NPL Publications

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