National Physical Laboratory measures up after £25m grant

Groundbreaking: Robert Gunn, Vince Cable MP and Martin Sene outside the National Physcial Laboratory

Groundbreaking: Robert Gunn, Vince Cable MP and Martin Sene outside the National Physcial Laboratory

First published in News by

Scientists welcomed a £25m grant to build new laboratories for cutting edge measurement research.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington received the cash boost from the Government last week, as part of a £600m injection into eight technologies by ministers.

The new NPL facility will be built at the back of Bushy Park House and will hold about 20 labs for 40 scientists to carry out high precision metrology, which is the science of measurement.

It is expected the new laboratory will bring in more than £500m for the UK economy, because the NPL’s technological expertise will be relied upon by more than 2,500 companies and 75 universities.

The new building will be a tightly controlled research environment with stable temperature and humidity, and minimised interference from vibration and electrical and magnetic fields.

Twickenham MP Vince Cable visited NPL after the funding announcement and said people should be made aware of the outstanding facility on their doorstep.

He said: “We just want to support the local institution and understand what’s going on and celebrate it.

“It’s an aspect of national infrastructure. A large percentage of staff are local residents and they are extremely highly qualified people.”

The NPL’s research was highlighted as one of Physics World’s list for the top 10 physics breakthroughs last year, after scientists built the first microwave emitting laser, maser, to operate at room temperature.

David Willets MP made the funding announcement on Thursday, January 24.

He said: “This ability to make accurate measurements underpins the UK’s competitiveness in both existing markets and to underpin new technology that will support growth in the UK economy.

“For example, Rolls Royce would not have been able to supply turbine blades to Airbus without measurement traceable to NPL; graphene could not have emerged as a viable proposition without the pioneering research work that NPL performed to be able to measure its properties.”

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