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Universities and research organisations

NPL and University College London

Close collaboration on research

In 2020, NPL and University College London (UCL) signed a memorandum of understanding signalling their commitment to consolidate and enhance their long history of collaboration on fundamental and applied research. NPL and UCL have collaborated on over 53 PhD projects and NPL is an active participant in several UCL hosted centres for doctoral training (CDTs). 

This escalation of the partnership comes at a critical time in the development of new research directions for both organisations, with the aim to create new facilities and training programmes aligned across both institutions.  The key focus areas include:  

  • Energy materials and devices
  • Environmental science;
  • Biological sciences and healthcare technologies
  • Large dataset handling
  • Quantum technologies

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NPL and UCL have a long history of working closely together and this MOU will formalise the relationship and create the opportunity to enhance our interactions in mutually strategically important areas in research and training.

JT Janssen - NPL’s Chief Scientist 

In the spotlight

Graeme Reid

Professor Graeme Reid

In October 2021, the NPL and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology announced the appointment of Professor Graeme Reid as the new chair of the NPL Management Ltd (NPLML) Board

Graeme is Professor of Science and Research Policy at UCL where he teaches at postgraduate levels. He has spent much of his career at the interface between science and Government, having worked in the Business Department, the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury before moving to UCL. 

Of his appointment, Professor Graeme Reid stated, “I have admired NPL throughout my career. NPL has a pivotal role in the economy of the UK and is a cornerstone of research and innovation. It is a great privilege to be appointed as chair of the NPL Management Ltd Board and I look forward to serving the Laboratory and its stakeholders during the years ahead.” Read more

Dan Brett

Professor Dan Brett

Dan is professor of Electrochemical Engineering at UCL. Dr Brett's research is in the area of electrochemical engineering and technology. He was appointed Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Metrology for Electrochemical Propulsion.

Professor Brett said: “This Research Chair combines fundamental engineering innovations from the Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL and the National Physical Laboratory’s world-leading metrology with a route to market for our innovations, instruments and services in the form of HORIBA MIRA. The prestige that accompanies a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair lends significant credibility and provides a strong mandate for the activity. This will help attract stakeholders and draw attention to the critical need for metrology innovation in the rapidly evolving vehicle propulsion industries.’’  Read more


Joint appointments and honorary roles

Catharine Clark

Catharine Clark

Honorary Professor in Medical Physics

The development and implementation of advanced radiotherapy techniques require validation and standardisation, especially when used in clinical trials. The work focuses on methodologies for independent assessment of these techniques, with the aim to raise standards and harmonise approaches.

My role is joint with UCL, University College London Hospital and the NIHR RadioTherapy Trials Quality Assurance Group. The four groups are all striving to ensure that the quality of the radiotherapy delivered to patients is the highest possible.  Each has it’s own perspective on this challenge, but with the same common goal. The benefit of holding a joint position is that it creates opportunities for me to link expertise from the individual institutions to provide unique solutions to different clinical challenges.

Matt Hall

Matt Hall

Honorary Visiting Associate Professor at UCL Great Ormond St Institute of Child Health

I have collaborated closely with Chris Clark and his team at UCL for many years in applications of diffusion MRI. We initially worked on 3D microstructral reconstruction in the brain, including biophysical tissue and simulation, and then shifted focus musculoskeletal applications including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We currently supervise two PhD students – one comparing simulation methods for diffusion MR validation and another looking at reproducibility and the separation of inter-patient variability from inter-scanner variability. This collaboration is key in addressing metrological questions in clinical applications of MRI and provides strong links to paediatric clinical practitioners.


Gareth Hinds

Visiting Professor in Chemical Engineering

The collaboration between NPL and UCL is focused on the development of in situ diagnostic techniques, modelling tools and standard test methods to support commercialisation of electrochemical energy conversion and storage technologies, including water electrolysers, fuel cells, batteries, supercapacitors and redox flow cells. Close links with key industry stakeholders are facilitated by interaction with NPL’s Industrial Advisory Groups in Hydrogen and Batteries. A further objective of this strategic collaboration is to train and develop the next generation of highly skilled researchers in electrochemical metrology in order to address the UK skills gap in net zero energy technologies.

Research projects

The collaboration between UCL and NPL addresses many of the UK national challenges and projects. Current projects include:  

Energy materials and devices

Electrochemical propulsion project—To provide the metrology tools required by UK industry to succeed in the fundamental change in the way that vehicles are powered

Preventing lithium-ion battery explosions—To provide understand of lithium-ion batteries failure mechanism and how to prevent it. 

Biological sciences

Battle against antimicrobial resistance—Developing new molecular tools to help in the battle against antimicrobial resistance.


Magnetic resonance imaging—Improving the reproducibility and understanding of metrology of MRI scans and standardising MRI phantoms for quantitative image comparions

New research projects


Research into solving global problems in information processing, healthcare, energy and the environment through the application of nanoscience and nanotechnology

If you are interested in finding out more or supporting any collaboration projects, please contact us

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Healthcare and data science  

Research into the use data, AI, and innovation to improve healthcare in the UK to enable prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of disease. 

Collaboration in numbers

>400 publications

 joint appointments

>5000 citations

28 studentships in progress

Dissemination of research

The 2017 terahertz science and technology roadmap 

As the field of THz science and technology is moving from an emerging to a more established and interdisciplinary field, it is useful to present a roadmap to help identify the breadth and future directions of the field. 

The challenge of ionisation chamber dosimetry in ultra-short pulsed high dose-rate VHEE beams

High dose-rate radiotherapy, known as FLASH, has been shown to increase the differential response between healthy and tumour tissue. Moreover, Very High Energy Electrons (VHEEs) provide more favourable dose distributions than conventional radiotherapy electron and photon beams. 

Characterising thermal runaway within lithium-ion cells by inducing and monitoring internal short circuits 

Lithium-ion batteries are being used in increasingly demanding applications where safety and reliability are of utmost importance. Thermal runaway presents the greatest safety hazard, and needs to be fully understood in order to progress towards safer cell and battery designs. 

Engineering chirally blind protein pseudocapsids into antibacterial persisters

Antimicrobial resistance stimulates the search for antimicrobial forms that may be less subject to acquired resistance. Here we report a conceptual design of protein pseudocapsids exhibiting a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activities. Unlike conventional antibiotics, these agents are effective against phenotypic bacterial variants, while clearing ‘superbugs’ in vivo without toxicity. 



An interdisciplinary team of researchers including Prof. Bart Hoogenboom (UCL London Centre for Nanotechnology at UCL and UCL Physics and Astronomy) and Katherine Hammond (NPL research scientist and PhD Student at the London Centre for Nanotechnology at UCL) were awarded NPL’s 2021 Rayleigh Award for most outstanding paper with impact: Engineering chirally blind protein pseudocapsids into antibacterial persisters.

Read the paper

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