www.npl.co.

uk

Spring 2010

The Health Issue

Artificial Eye
Page 10

‘Phantoms’ fight cancer
Page 5

Interfacial pressure sensors
Page 3

Editor’s introduction

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the UK’s National Measurement Institute and is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards, science and technology. Measurement plays an important and often overlooked role in society. It affects us on a personal level when we receive a medical diagnosis or treatment - receiving the correct dosage of a drug is dependent on all the measurements made in its production and distribution. To give a clear example of the impact this has, nearly 200,000 people a year are treated using radiotherapy, where NPL’s work with UK hospitals ensures that each dose is measured and targeted effectively. NPL’s role in the healthcare industry has seen the installation of a state of the art Clinical Linac facility to support radiation dosimetry for cancer therapy, and the development of standards for the International Federation

of Clinical Chemistry for Enzyme Linked Immunoassays (ELISA). NPL also carries out research and development in the areas of Regenerative Medicines, Medical Devices, Diagnostic Assay Development, Personal Care, Acoustics and Ultrasound and in 2009 spun out its first Medical Device Company; Argento Diagnostics.

www.npl.co

.uk

Spring 2010

The Health Issue

Page 10

Artificial Eye

Page 5

‘Phantoms’

fight cancer

Page 3

Interfacial pressur

e sensors

In this issue, the first under the Metromnia banner, we focus upon what measurement challenges in healthcare NPL is currently addressing, and where NPL plans to develop this key area of research in future. The Editor, Metromnia

Viral infections of cells can now be watched in real time
NPL, working with the University of Edinburgh, has developed a technique that makes it possible to watch the infection of individual cells by viruses in real time.
It is hoped that by observing how different properties of the cells are affected at different stages of an infection, it will be possible to monitor the effects of new treatments. This imaging works on a molecular level, revealing the spread of the virus through the cell by imaging the viral proteins (using a technique called ‘two-photon fluorescence’). The changes in the cell’s membrane are also observed (using a technique called ‘Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering’), giving a high resolution image of the cell’s shape, and showing how this is altered by the virus. These two techniques are used together and allow these changes to be observed simultaneously in a cell, in real time.
Left: Infected cell imaged with CARS microscopy showing lipid droplets and membranes. Right: Two-photon fluorescence image of the same cell. The fluorescent protein visualised by this technique confirms viral infection.

The virus in this study (a cytomegalovirus) was altered to express a fluorescent protein, which is visible when using this technique. This protein could be seen in a higher concentration in the nucleus of the infected cell, compared to the surrounding cytosol. The nucleus of the cell expanded, and the cell itself became more rounded. Researchers are particularly interested in the effect the virus has on the host cell’s metabolic functions. These results have shown how the lipid storage mechanisms of the host

cell are recruited as part of the viral infection and replication cycle. The research is now progressing to investigate this technique using live cells, rather than fixed samples. This work has been published in the Journal of Biophotonics: www3.interscience.wiley.com/ journal/122540362/abstract For further information, please contact: Jason Crain T: 020 8943 6107 jason.crain@npl.co.uk

www.npl.co.uk

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Interfacial pressure sensors come under scrutiny
With 4% of NHS spending going on remedial treatment of pressure sores, preventative measures are a focus for research. NPL is examining the performance of interfacial pressure sensors, used in the development of pressure relieving mattresses and compression bandages.
NPL is undertaking work to characterise the performance of interfacial pressure sensors. These sensors are widely used in the healthcare industry for the development and evaluation of pressure relieving mattresses and support surfaces, and in the testing and use of compression bandages. Unrelieved pressure, shear or frictional forces between a patient and mattress or cushion can cause pressure sores. The effective design of support surfaces helps to reduce the occurrence of pressure sores in long-term hospital patients and care home residents. This has a major impact both in terms of improving patient comfort and reducing the financial burden of expensive remedial treatment of pressure sores. The total cost in the UK has been estimated to be £1.4-£2.1bn annually (4% of the total NHS expenditure). Interfacial pressure measurement instruments can take the form of stand-alone single sensors or multisensor pressure mapping systems. The aim of NPL’s work is to design a series of tests by which the performance of all available sensors can be characterised and compared. The tests performed so far have mainly concentrated on stand alone sensors and involved loading several sensors of different designs under a range of conditions, varying both the geometry of the surfaces between which the sensor is mounted and the compliance of the material covering the surfaces. Tests have also been performed to assess the response of shear force sensors to a range of loading conditions. The initial results show a wide variation in the performance of sensors under different loading conditions, and that the performance is closely linked with the design of the sensing element of the device. The next step will be a detailed investigation of the performance of multi-sensor pressure mapping systems which will additionally include tests for spatial resolution and interaction of the individual sensors. The results of this investigation will be published in a good practice guide on the design and use of interfacial pressure sensors.

For further information, please contact: Laurence Brice
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T: 020 8943 7054 laurence.brice@npl.co.uk

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Characterising hydrogels for regenerative medicine
Hydrogels are being used more and more in areas such as regenerative medicine, where they help rebuild blood vessels, nerves and cartilage. A new ASTM International guide is being developed to help assess the safety and effectiveness of hydrogels, and NPL is looking for contributors to aid this development.
Hydrogels are water-swollen polymeric networks. They generally contain 60% to 99% water, yet maintain the structural integrity of a solid. This high water content, coupled with their soft, rubbery nature, typically high permeability and biocompatibility makes hydrogels attractive biomaterials. Traditionally, hydrogels have been widely used in medicine for sight correction, as coupling agents, barrier coatings and vehicles for drug delivery. Such materials are relatively simple in terms of their design and performance. This situation, however, is rapidly changing as hydrogels begin to find use in emerging healthcare solutions, particularly in regenerative medicine, owing to improvements in hydrogel synthesis. Hydrogels can now be injected into the body in a liquid state, and through application of stimuli (e.g. temperature, pH) will gel in situ. Thus, they can be injected into wound sites together with cells and growth factors to form self-assembled structures for use in regenerative medicine (e.g. in angiogenesis, re-building of nerves and cartilage repair). Additionally, hydrogels can also be produced that exhibit bio-mimetic behaviours that respond to enzymatic action or to the presence of specific biomolecules (e.g. antigens, oligonucleotides). Such materials can modulate the cellular microenvironment by presenting both biophysical and biochemical signals to regulate gene and protein expression. The challenge for companies now is to get these new hydrogel therapies successfully to market and into clinical use. Both are currently constrained by the need to develop an appropriate regulatory and metrological framework under which products will be assessed. In response, a new ASTM International guide is under development that will assist in developing strategies to assess the safety and effectiveness of hydrogels used in regenerative medicine. Specifically, the guide will describe current techniques that are used to characterise hydrogels, taking into consideration the assessment of structure, biocompatibility and sterilisation. Whilst the document is targeted at the multidisciplinary readership within the field of regenerative medicine, the content will also be relevant to people working in other branches of medicine and the food industry for example. For further information, please contact: Melissa Mather T: 020 8943 6778 melissa.mather@npl.co.uk

www.npl.co.uk

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New measurement technique will help in fight against cancer
NPL ‘phantoms’ will validate a new technique which monitors changes in cell structures.
A new technique to catch cancer early has taken an important step forward thanks to the National Physical Laboratory. NPL’s ‘phantoms’ will ensure an exciting new screening technique can be relied upon by hospitals to identify early signs of cancer. The technique, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), is an increasingly popular technique for looking beneath the surface of certain materials, notably human tissue. It is higher resolution and much quicker than techniques such as MRI or ultrasound, with no ionising radiation, making it ideal for detecting changes in tissue structure which can indicate the early stages of cancer. However creating such images requires high precision, and any inaccuracy can lead to incorrect assumptions about cell disruption. This can mean missing opportunities for early, potentially life-saving treatment. A new NPL product, called a ‘pointspread phantom’, will eliminate the risk of such errors. The phantoms are translucent cylinders of resin containing specially arranged particles designed to reflect light in a very specific way. By viewing the phantom with an OCT machine and analysing the image with NPL software, users can be certain the machine is producing accurate images, which they can rely on for important medical decisions. These ‘phantoms’ will also allow manufacturers of OCT technology to meet the necessary standards to guarantee to hospitals that their machines are sufficiently accurate. This will help speed the route to market of products using this important new technology, and assure hospitals of their ongoing reliability. Michelson Diagnostics is the first UK company to use NPL’s phantoms to validate the accuracy of their machines. CEO Jon Holmes said: “We developed breakthrough technology for imaging living tissue and for detecting diseases, but we needed to validate our performance claims, to provide customers with greater confidence in them. NPL’s phantoms and analysis have enabled us to validate our claims beyond doubt, thereby demonstrating the superiority of our scanners and giving us the edge over our competitors. We expect that this validation will give OCT technology the backing it needs to become standard in hospitals around the world, and thereby make an important progression in the battle against cancer”. NPL recently completed laboratory tests and are now running trials with companies before bringing the product to market. Anyone interested in more information or trialling the new technology should contact: Pete Tomlins T: 020 8943 6165 pete.tomlins@npl.co.uk

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NPL helps precision engineering SME win funding for training
Darron-SBO is a leading precision engineering SME based in Rotherham. It provides specialist parts to the oil and gas industry where tight tolerances and accuracy are essential.
NPL helped Darron-SBO identify funding from Yorkshire Forward’s Enhancement Fund in order to put 21 members of staff through Level 1, and five through Level 2 of NPL’s Dimensional Measurement Training course. Denis Smith, Post Production Supervisor at the firm is already seeing the benefits: “Staff are now thinking more carefully about which measurement method is appropriate for a particular task. The decision making process with regards to quality and inspection has improved. We can now prove our competency to our customers. NPL Training provides us with that unquestionable credibility.” “We are confident we will see a reduction in wastage and real business benefits. We will definitely be putting more employees through the course, and are considering the advantages of all the manufacturing personnel going through Level 1, some 60 additional employees.” NPL is uniquely placed to help companies understand measurement issues better and make the most of their manufacturing process. NPL Training’s Dimensional Measurement Programme is made up of four levels and is validated by The National Skills Academy for Manufacturing (NSAM).

Fundamental Good Practice in Dimensional Metrology Guide No 80
This Dimensional Measurement Good Practice Guide underpins the training modules contained within The NPL Training Framework. It is written for those who need to make dimensional measurements but are not necessarily trained in this area. An introduction to length units and key issues such as traceability and uncertainty is followed by some examples of typical sources of error in length measurement. Checking to specification, accreditation and measurement techniques are also covered along with an introduction to optical measurement techniques.

A list of all of NPL’s training courses and events, customer feedback and training deliverers’ details can be found at: www.npl.co.uk/training For further information, please contact: Tom Ashby T: 020 8943 8672 tom.ashby@npl.co.uk

This guide can be downloaded for free or paper copies ordered from www.npl.co.uk/ publications/guides/

Medical test results in minutes
NPL has helped Vivacta, a healthcare diagnostics company, to develop their point-of-care testing technology with a bespoke software analysis tool.
Vivacta’s point-of-care test uses innovative sensor technology to collect and analyse a patient’s blood sample, and diagnose certain health conditions, all in the space of a few minutes. This saves considerable time as the sample doesn’t have to be sent off to a laboratory for testing, and allows for quicker diagnosis and treatment of the patient’s health conditions. NPL helped Vivacta investigate a number of different sensor setups quickly, saving them considerable development time. NPL’s analysis tool also helped Vivacta understand their system better, and provided an analysis tool that they could use in future to optimise their sensor technology. In particular, the software allowed Vivacta to understand which parameters in their system were vital to performance and which parameters had little effect. For further information, please contact: Markys Cain T: 020 8943 6599 markys.cain@npl.co.uk To read the full case study, please visit: www.npl.co.uk/commercialservices/case-studies

www.npl.co.uk

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Having Graham Machin working hands-on with us has allowed us to appreciate the complexities of using thermometry instruments correctly and the importance this has in the interpretation of clinical results. This has led us to be confident that the measurements we are making are reliable.

Charmaine Childs, Senior Research Fellow, Brain Injury Research Group, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

iStockPhoto

Brain temperature sensor performance validated
Small changes in brain temperature in patients with brain injuries can indicate the need for medical intervention. NPL and the University of Manchester have undertaken an assessment of the limitations of two brain temperature sensors, to study the accuracy of brain temperature measurement and its impact on patient recovery.
Temperature measurement is an essential base measurement in clinical care. In particular the measurement of brain temperature, using small contact thermometry probes, is a key indicator of brain health in patients who have experienced serious brain trauma. In these patients subtle changes in brain temperature may be a significant clinical indicator, triggering medical intervention. However, the measured effects are small, typically ~0.1 °C to 0.2 °C so the actual temperature measurement performance of the in-vivo brain sensors is critical. NPL and the University of Manchester’s Brain Injury Research Group undertook a critical assessment of the limitations of two in-vivo brain temperature sensors, and a reference rectal temperature sensor. Understanding the performance limitations of these type of sensors is an essential first step in building robust clinical protocols for improving care, and hence maintaining optimum brain function, for these very vulnerable patients. The assessment of the accuracy of the temperature was performed using two fixed-point references at nominally 26 °C and 36 °C with an uncertainty of ±0.005 °C. It was shown that at the 36 °C fixed-point reference the reading of the two in-vivo sensors was within 0.1 °C. This result provides a firm foundation for further in-vivo studies of brain temperature measurement and its influence on recovery from traumatic brain injury. A summary of this work has been published in the journal Critical Care available at: http://ccforum.com/content/13/4/ R106 For further information, please contact: Graham Machin T: 020 8943 6742 graham.machin@npl.co.uk

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NPL is opening its doors, come and be amazed
On Thursday 20 May 2010 the National Physical Laboratory will be holding an open day for the first time in over twenty years so you can see for yourselves the amazing research we do.
As the UK’s National Measurement Institute NPL develops and maintains the nation’s primary measurement standards, to ensure accuracy and consistency around the world. As well as being the home of the metre, the kilogram and the second, our scientists use measurement to solve all sorts of problems in all sorts of places - from cancer treatment, Earth observation, farming, mobile phones, GPS, electronics, and countless others. Wherever measurement is needed, NPL is there. On Thursday 20 May 2010 (World Measurement Day) we will have a variety of science laboratories open as well as a programme of short talks and an exhibition to showcase our world-leading science. Come along, meet our scientists and prepare to be amazed! You and your colleagues are welcome to come to our Open Day, but you must pre-register at: www.npl.co.uk/open-day

Spinning out for success
NPL’s expertise often manifests itself in technology products, software or processes from its government research programmes. We are keen to share this expertise and actively exploit our intellectual property. Many companies have benefited from the sale or licence of our products, software or processes. Two of the most recent products are the NPL CaviMeter and Argento Diagnostics:

The NPL CaviMeter
The NPL CaviMeter™ is the world’s first instrument capable of measuring localised ultrasonic cavitation (the implosion of bubbles in a liquid when a high frequency sound wave is applied), and will transform the way hospitals clean medical instruments prior to surgery by providing a new measurement capability. The CaviMeter™ was designed in response to a longstanding user need, and the novel spatially-sensitive cavitation sensor it uses was conceived and developed at NPL. The NPL CaviMeter™ won the Ultrasonic Industry Association (UIA) Outstanding Product Award in 2009.

Argento Diagnostics
NPL have developed a truly revolutionary product that will hopefully save many lives by allowing rapid diagnosis of virtually any health problem. The product, being marketed by Argento Diagnostics, an NPL spin out company, is the first fully portable diagnostic device capable of quickly measuring biomarkers in blood, urine, saliva etc. to reveal what a patient is suffering from. It could also be used in veterinary practice, military applications (for battlefield medicine, as well as detecting problems with fuel in aircraft/marine vessels), sports medicine, and police roadside testing.

www.npl.co.uk/cleaning-with-cavitation

www.argentodiagnostics.com

www.npl.co.uk

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Reduced uncertainties for dielectric RF & microwave reference liquids
A number of liquids are used as tissue equivalents when calculating the Specific Absorption Rate of power produced by radiating devices such as mobile phones. A new NPL report gives the permittivity data (the measure of how much a material reduces an electric field) for these liquids, with reduced uncertainties.
[1]

Liquids can be readily purchased from chemical suppliers with a highpurity certification. This makes them useful for calibrating instruments for dielectric measurements. A new NPL Report [1] provides traceable accurate data for a number of liquids, including methanol, ethanol, dimethyl sulphoxide and ethanediol at frequencies up to 5 GHz. These polar liquids have comparable properties to biological materials (i.e. high permittivity and loss). Applications include measurements on foodstuffs to study microwave heating, and measurements on tissue-equivalent materials that are used in the measurement of the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of

power, in human tissues, produced by radiating devices such as mobile phones. Relaxation models have been fitted to the data to allow the ‘best-fit’ permittivity to be computed as a function of frequency. The report supersedes an earlier NPL report (CETM 33, 2001). While the permittivity data in the new report are little changed, an extensive study has allowed uncertainties to be reduced significantly in many cases. Uncertainties in ‘best-fit’ data were evaluated using a Monte Carlo Modelling process that accounts for the fact that measurement errors have a systematic dependence on frequency. A paper on this work has been published [2].

Gregory, A. P. and Clarke, R. N. Tables of the Complex Permittivity of Dielectric Reference Liquids at Frequencies up to 5 GHz. NPL Report MAT 23, March 2009. Gregory, A. P., Clarke R. N. and Cox M. G. Traceable measurement of dielectric reference liquids over the temperature interval 10–50 °C using coaxial-line methods, Meas. Sci. Tech., Vol 20, 2009, pp. 75106.

[2]

For further information, please contact: Andrew Gregory T: 020 8943 6430 andrew.gregory@npl.co.uk

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Building an artificial eye
NPL have built an artificial eye that accurately mimics the way human eyes view light.
The eye will lead to a better understanding of how new lighting technologies and display systems such as projection TVs and low energy lighting, affect eyesight. The eye will allow manufacturers of these products to test and, where necessary, modify their products and so end the debate on the safety of these new light sources. This will help ensure that innovation in this exciting area continues unhindered, and will help ensure that the vision of future generations is safeguarded.

For further information, please contact: Simon Hall T: 020 8943 6758 simon.hall@npl.co.uk
NPL Photo

Thumbs up
NPL has verified new computer technology that can identify partial, smudged or ‘warped’ fingerprints in seconds.
Worn and ravaged hands have for a long time been a stumbling block for fingerprint access control readers. This is a particular issue in the construction industry. NPL has recently verified new computer technology developed by the University of Warwick that can identify partial, smudged or ‘warped’ fingerprints in seconds. The new system came out top for accuracy when tested by NPL and is already in use at six major building sites. NPL has world-class expertise in developing and improving methodologies for evaluating the performance of biometric systems, conducting evaluations, and technical consultancy on biometric system performance for Government and industry. The technology, developed by the University of Warwick and verified by NPL, is able to identify partial, distorted, scratched, smudged, or otherwise warped fingerprints in just a few seconds. The technology is now being rapidly taken up by the UK building trade who are delighted to have fingerprint technology which can cope with often worn and ravaged builders’ thumbprints. This technology has been taken forward by University of Warwick spin out company, Warwick Warp, and has just deployed it for security and staff management on six building sites. This biometrics system works reliably with poor quality fingerprints, the type routinely seen in the construction industry - it is fast, accurate and eliminates the ‘buddy punching’ problems of older card-based access systems. Warwick Warp’s fingerprint technology gave the best overall accuracy in NPL’s benchmark tests, and a test of 36 fingerprint technologies by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the US ranked it third overall.

Find out more about NPL’s Biometric research at: www.npl.co.uk/mathematicsscientific-computing/biometrics/ For further information, please contact: Tony Mansfield T: 020 8943 7029 tony.mansfield@npl.co.uk

www.npl.co.uk

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New guide on the assessment of surface texture in two dimensions
NPL has prepared a new ASTM International guide that aims to increase the biomaterials community’s awareness of the different methods and approaches for quantifying surface texture.
It is well known that the behaviour of cells on biomaterial surfaces is strongly dependent on the chemistry, and hence energy of the surface, as well as its topography. The latter is typically characterised by a single parameter, Ra (an averaging parameter) that, although widely used in engineering, is not always a sensitive measure of roughness. The new guide describes the broader range of roughness parameters that exist, and the pros and cons of techniques for measuring surface texture. It also describes the methods commonly employed to analyse roughness data, which includes the use of filters and levelling. NPL is currently working with a consortium of European standards laboratories to underpin the To obtain copies of the new standard, ASTM 22802 09 please visit: www.astm.org metrology requirements for understanding cell-surface interactions in a project funded by the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP) and the UK’s National Measurement Office.

Further details are available at the EMRP project site: http://projects.npl.co.uk/ regenerative_medicine For further information, please contact: Paul Tomlins T: 020 8943 6778 paul.tomlins@npl.co.uk

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Watch an ‘Electron Tree’ being made
NPL makes Electron Trees onsite, using a machine called an Electron Linear Accelerator or ‘Linac’ for short. The treelike structures in these Perspex blocks are created by electrons fracturing them from within. The Linac’s day job is to deliver beams of electrons to a fixed point, which is currently one of the most effective treatments used to kill cancerous cells in the human body. Part of NPL’s role is to ensure that hospitals’ Linacs deliver an accurate and consistent radiation dose for all patients. Hospitals using Linacs ensure their machines are accurate and consistent by measuring their output with a small measurement device called an ionisation chamber, which is traceable back to NPL’s national standards.

NPL Photo

What is the National Physical Laboratory?
The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the UK’s leading science facilities and research centres. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate standards, science and technology available. NPL occupies a unique position as the UK’s National Measurement Institute and sits at the intersection between scientific discovery and real world application. Its expertise and original research have underpinned quality of life, innovation and competitiveness for UK citizens and business for more than a century.

To find out how this effect is achieved you can view a video of an Electron Tree being made at: www.npl.co.uk/educate-explore/ electron-trees

Packet switching
In the 1960s, NPL began developing a technique for transmitting long messages of data by splitting them into chunks and temporarily storing them at computer nodes. This technique still forms the basis of the complex computer communications systems we use today. The technique, called ‘packet switching’, was developed by Donald Davies (pictured) and, by the early 1970s, the first practical networks using packet switching were introduced to the NPL local network, providing a range of on-line services to some 200 users. This demonstration provided a much-needed steer to the development of the Arpanet, which would evolve into the Internet we know today.

www.npl.co.uk

If you would like further information on any aspect of Metromnia, please contact:

Metromnia Editor National Physical Laboratory Teddington Middlesex UK TW11 0LW Helpline: 020 8943 6880 Fax: 020 8614 0446 E-mail: enquiry@npl.co.uk
The National Physical Laboratory is operated on behalf of the National Measurement Office by NPL Management Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Serco Group plc

To find out more about the development of packet switching, you can view NPL’s collection of historic videos: www.youtube.com/user/NPLdigital

The Little Big Book of Metrology
Available free to Metromnia subscribers is a copy of NPL’s ‘The little big book of metrology’ (RRP £6.99), which details the history and development of measurement and measuring, and explains the units and techniques used in research and everyday life. To receive your free copy, please fill in and return the freepost feedback form included with your subscription issue. If you do not receive a paper copy of Metromnia, but would like to receive a free copy of ‘The little big book of metrology’ please e-mail your name and postal address to daniel.ainsworth@npl.co.uk with ‘Little big book’ in the subject line. Offer open to UK and Northern Ireland residents only. Available while stocks last.
The National Measurement System delivers world-class measurement for science and technology through these organisations

© Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO, 2010.

8845/AAR/7K/0210

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Spring 2010

Metromnia Extra + Events, Training & News

Research funding opportunities
NPL is in a privileged position to provide world-leading expertise in a number of different areas. Collaboration is vitally important for us to maintain this level of expertise and help UK businesses. We invite readers to browse through the list of research opportunities below – please contact us if any are of interest or you have any questions.
European Metrology Research Programme (www.emrponline.eu)
The EMRP Call 2010 for proposals for potential metrology research topics (PRTs) and followed by a call for proposals for related Joint Research Projects (JRPs) and associated EMRP Researcher Grants will be launched within the following research areas:
• Metrology for Industry • Metrology for Environment

For further information, please contact: Peter Benson T: 020 8943 8746 peter.benson@npl.co.uk

National Institute of Health Research (www.nihr-ccf.org.uk)
A couple of the areas open for competition:
• Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB): The RfPB programme is for high quality research projects that address issues of importance to the NHS. It funds research into everyday practice in the health service. • Programme Grants for Applied Research: Aimed at those with a solid track record in the research industry.

FP7 (www.cordis.europa.eu)
The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) from the European Commission is the main instrument for funding research across the continent. FP7 will fund research that meets the requirements of their selected priority areas, such as:
• Health • ICT • Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Techniques • Energy • People • Nuclear Fission and Radiation Protection (Euratom) • Science in Society

The indicative call budget per research area is €41.28m, of which approximately 47% is funded by the European Commission with the remaining funding provided by the participating National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) and Designated Institutes (DIs). Additionally a further €9.6m is available (jointly funded by the European Commission and the participating NMIs) for the EMRP Researcher Grant schemes.

The NIHR research opportunities are not restricted to those highlighted here, please check the website above for more information and funding opportunities.

The Technology Strategy Board (www.innovateuk.org)
The Technology Strategy Board has a number of competitions open:
• Integrated Delivery Programme Competition 4 – opens 8 February 2010 • Helicopter Rotor Blade Scintillation (MoD) – opens 11 February 2010 • Energy Efficient Whitehall – opens 22 February 2010 • Technology Strategy Board also offers the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) – competitions for ideas that result in shortterm development contracts.

• Joint Technology Initiatives

MoD (www.science.mod.uk) open all year round
The MoD will accept applications that fall within its remit all year round through their Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) as well as offering specific calls for research and competitions.

European Research Council Grant (http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/).
• Advanced Grant for Life Sciences deadline 17 March 2010 • Advanced Grant for Social Sciences and Humanities- deadline 7 April 2010

NPL’s snowman c
The ‘world’s smallest snowman’, created at NPL by David Cox (and featured on NPL’s 2009 Christmas card) has appeared in the news all over the world in December 2009 / January 2010.
In the UK, the snowman appeared in the vast majority of the national newspapers including The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Daily Mirror. Internationally, he attracted press attention across Europe, Australia, China, and the US. He was even featured on a CNN television news programme which reportedly has a potential audience of 2 billion people in over 200 countries. The snowman is just 10 μm wide, which is approximately 1/5th the width of a human hair, and is built not from snow but from two tin beads used to calibrate electron microscope astigmatism. His tiny eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and his nose (which is under 1 μm wide, or 0.001 mm), is not a nano-carrot but is in fact ion beam deposited platinum. Dr Cox used a nanomanipulation system to assemble the parts of the snowman ‘by hand’ and platinum deposition welded all parts together. Dr Cox took just a couple of hours to make the snowman, using techniques that NPL normally uses: • To make and fine tune Atomic Force Microscope cantilevers for measuring surface topography • To manufacture nano scale SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices) for a wide range of future measurement applications including spintronics, single particle detection, NEMS and quantum information processing • To measure magnetic properties of very small magnetic systems using quantum hall probes

For further information, please contact: David Cox david.cox@npl.co.uk At time of writing, NPL’s explanatory video featuring the snowman had been watched by over 400,000 people from all over the world. You can watch it yourself at: www.npl.co.uk/christmas

Prefixes

10–24 yocto

10–21 zepto

10–18 atto

10–15 femto

10–12 pico

10–9 nano

10–6 µ (micro)

charms the world

10–3 milli

103 kilo

106 Mega

109 Giga

1012 Tera

1015 Peta

1018 Exa

1021 Zetta

1024 Yotta

Events
A Testing Challenge - Digital Communications Knowledge Transfer Network and the Testing Special Interest Group 25 February 2010 NPL, Teddington www.npl.co.uk/events/a-testingchallenge Applications of Micro and Nanosensors in Security, Health and Environmental Monitoring 4 March 2010 NPL, Teddington www.npl.co.uk/events/ Commercial R&D with Research Facilities - Access Skills, Technology and Services 11 March 2010 Hamilton House Meeting & Conference Centre, London www.npl.co.uk/events/ Measurement & Characterisation of Structured Surfaces: Information Exchange Day 15 March 2010 NPL, Teddington www.npl.co.uk/networks-clubs/eman/ events/ MCNEG 2010 - 16th UK Monte Carlo User Group Meeting 12 - 13 April 2010 NPL, Teddington www.npl.co.uk/events Measurement Systems and Process Improvement (MSPI) 2010 - ENBISIMEKO TC21 Workshop 19 - 20 April 2010 NPL, Teddington http://conferences.npl.co.uk/mspi Computational Science in Metrology Software Support for Metrology 21 April 2010 NPL, Teddington www.npl.co.uk/events/computationalscience-in-metrology AMUM 2010 - Advanced Metrology for Ultrasound in Medicine in association with Precision Acoustics Ltd 12 - 14 May 2010 NPL, Teddington http://conferences.npl.co.uk/amum/ index.html Joint International Symposium on Temperature, Humidity, Moisture & Thermal Measurements in Industry & Science 31 May - 4 June 2010 Portorož, Slovenia www.tempmeko-ishm.org/index.html MANSA - Metrology of Airborne Nanoparticles, Standardisation and Applications 8 - 10 Jun 2010 NPL, Teddington www.npl.co.uk/events/mansa

NPL Training events
8 - 10 March 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 1 WMMMC, Coventry 8 - 11 March 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 2 WMMMC, Coventry 9 - 11 March 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 1 Mitutoyo, Coventry 16 - 18 March 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 1 Hexagon Metrology, Swindon 22 - 24 March 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 1 WMMMC, Coventry 22 - 25 March 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 2 WMMMC, Coventry 6 - 8 April 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 1 Mitutoyo, Coventry 6 - 9 Apr 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 2 Mitutoyo, Coventry 13 - 15 April 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 1 Hexagon Metrology, Telford 13 - 16 April 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 2 Mitutoyo, Coventry 26 - 29 April 2010: Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 2 Hexagon Metrology, Swindon

Available courses
Developing Advanced Scientific Engineering Spreadsheet Applications A two day training course on developing advanced spreadsheet applications Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 1 - Measurement User A three day training course introducing measurement knowledge focusing upon dimensional techniques Dimensional Measurement Training: Level 2 - Measurement Applier A four day training course for those who have a good basic understanding of measurement principles gained through the Level 1 training course Foundation Degree in Metrology Coventry University, with NPL’s assistance, has launched the UK’s first ever Foundation Degree in Metrology Humidity Measurement & Calibration A two day course on humidity measurement and calibration covering dew point, relative humidity and many other humidity quantities, it will concentrate on methods of measurement which are of greatest technological relevance to attendees Laser Safety Workshop A one day workshop covering applications in safe laser use and laser product design Metrology Data Analysis A one day course on extracting quantitative information from data Practical Course in Reference Dosimetry This course is primarily aimed at trainee radiotherapy physicists but would also benefit anyone wishing to improve their practical dosimetry techniques Simulation of Experiments A two day training course on simulating experiments Temperature Measurement & Calibration Option of a two or three day course covering temperature measurement and calibration, covering measurement techniques; thermodynamic background and temperature scales; calibration techniques; traceability and accreditation; and hands-on laboratory sessions

If you would like further information on any aspect of Metromnia, please contact: Metromnia Editor National Physical Laboratory Teddington Middlesex UK TW11 0LW Helpline: 020 8943 6880 For further information, please visit: www.npl.co.uk/training/ Fax: 020 8614 0446 enquiry@npl.co.uk

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