National Physical Laboratory Partnership

This is a partnership between the University of Surrey, the University of Strathclyde and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) which draws on the expertise and knowledge of all three organisations to address some of the major scientific challenges we face today.

About the partnership

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the UK's National Measurement Institute and is a world leader in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards in areas such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace, the digital world, energy and healthcare.

Our University was selected, along with the University of Strathclyde, to enter into a partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in April 2015, with the aim of setting a new strategic direction for NPL. The Surrey-NPL hub is part of a network of aligned NPL regional hubs aimed at exploiting NPL’s advanced metrology capabilities.


We have joint facilities with the NPL that drive quantum technology research and measurement and modelling of nonlinear RF and microwave technology research.

Research themes

Our University and the NPL are working across three main research themes:

Medical physics

This theme builds on a long-standing three-way collaboration between our University, NPL and the Royal Surrey County Hospital, supported by a number of joint roles across the institutions.

We are focusing on three main strands of research:

  • Medical physics covering dosimetry (radiation monitoring)
  • Medical imaging (much of the research within this strand is aimed at developing safe, effective solutions for innovative cancer therapy and diagnosis)
  • Nuclear metrology.

If you'd like to find out more about the research projects being worked on around this theme then visit our Ion Beam Centre and our Radiation and Medical Physics Group websites.

Earth observation

Surrey and NPL are helping to pioneer a new era of Earth observation. Big data from Earth observation satellites and in-situ sensors are forming part of the emerging internet of things and will play a crucial role in improving business productivity, reducing operating costs and improving the wellbeing of people and animals.

In response to a growing demand to understand the quality and provenance of data in the end user application, NPL and the University of Surrey have established the Global Sensing and Satellite Centre of Excellence (GloSS) which carries out research and demonstrates data quality in a new era of Earth observation information services in agriculture, future cities and maritime surveillance.

We are focusing on three main strands of research:

  • Transport infrastructure for future cities
  • New crop information for farmers through sensor and satellite data innovation
  • Surveillance of the maritime environment

Future communication technologies

This research theme encompasses two key areas:

  1. The metrology challenges posed by the emerging 5G communications network
  2. The use of quantum technologies in the fields of computing, communications and sensing.

Our University has a 5G Innovation centre that is dedicated to addressing key areas such as dealing with radio interference, intelligent antennas, measurement and modelling of nonlinear devices and metrology for 5G communications.

The emergence of quantum technologies has led to the global standards for currents and resistances, energies, time and mass to be redefined in terms of quantum properties. The Surrey-NPL partnership is working on developing ways of measuring tiny amounts of matter (often single, isolated atoms) – research that will lay the foundations for applications in computation, communications and sensing.

Get in contact

If you're interested in collaborating with us or have any questions then please email Professor Peter Aaen.

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