EU Metrology research Programme brings significant measurable results

There many different aspects in everyday life which are related to the science branch called Metrology which refers to the science and application of measurement. Today, Europe's metrologists are working together in the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), and are helping to address the grand challenges facing the world today in diverse fields such as the environment, energy and health.

Metrology which can be defined as the scientific discipline allowing to make good, accurate and reliable measurements, affects all areas of life. For example, when going to the hospital for a CT (computer tomography) scan, it is thanks to metrology that one can rest assured that the dose of radiation received will be enough to generate the scan while remaining within safe limits. Similarly, if different parts of a car are built in different companies and countries, metrology ensures that the parts fit together in the assembly plant.

The European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), which receives 50% of its funding through the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), is being led by Dr Jörn Stenger of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Germany. This programme supporting metrology contributes to making measurements comparable all over the world and at different periods in time.

National metrology institutes exist throughout Europe, and they have a long history of international informal cooperation, as the mutual acceptance of standards and measures across borders is essential. However, as a consequence of advances in technology, research has become increasingly expensive, yet national metrology institutes' budgets were often reduced. Within this context, the project called IMERA ('Implementing metrology in the European research area') appeared. This project, funded under the 'ERA-NET' scheme, allowed Europe's metrology community to formulate a joint, coordinated research programme and determine the procedures and structures needed to implement it.

When the first IMERA project ended, the metrologists carried on working through the EU's ERA-NET Plus scheme. During this period, the group issued calls for proposals in four key areas: health, the international system of units (SI units), electromagnetism and dimensional industrial applications.

Since it was first put in place, the EMRP is having a huge impact on the

European Research Area (ERA)

, as roughly 50% of metrology research and development carried out in the countries that have signed up to it is carried out through the EMRP. One further step in this same direction was the launching of the

new scientific facilities that the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) now has for measurement and testing


The EMRP is also generating interest beyond Europe's borders; countries that are particularly interested in the EMRP's work include Australia, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan and the US. In addition, a number of researchers from outside Europe are involved in EMRP-funded projects.

Looking to the future, the EMRP is keen to address the 'grand challenges' facing the world today; to this end, it is asking stakeholders in a number of sectors, including energy, the environment and health, for feedback on the metrology problems that are specific to their sector.