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EMPIR project builds capacity in AC quantum voltage standards across Europe

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Project enables NMIs to enhance their capability and supports quantum electrical standards important for industry

EMPIR Capacity Building projects support the development of metrological expertise in emerging EURAMET NMIs and DIs, whilst increasing interactions and extending the capability of more developed institutions. These projects form a key EURAMET tool for creating a coherent, efficient and sustainable metrology landscape in Europe.

The recently completed EMPIR project ‘Towards the propagation of ac quantum voltage standards’ (14RPT01, ACQ-PRO) brought together the leading European NMIs in this field from Germany, Italy and the UK, with EURAMET NMI members in Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, and Turkey keen to develop their measurement capabilities. As a result, 9 NMIs developed skills and have prepared individual strategies for extending research activities into AC quantum voltage metrology and introducing new calibration services. EURAMET was pleased to welcome the first EMPIR participation by the DIs FER (Croatia as an internal funded partner) and FCT-UNL (Portugal as an external funded partner) in this project.

AC quantum voltage standards affect 70 % of NMI calibrations, and as the use of ADC/DAC technology expands in industry and research, these standards are becoming essential for producing the precise arbitrary signal waveforms with very small uncertainties required for AC waveform characterisation. To gain access to the knowledge and expertise required to maintain and extend the availability of AC quantum standards, European NMI must collaborate in transferring skills and developing facilities to close a growing capability gap.

This project has been successful in developing the European measurement and research capacity for AC quantum voltage standards by:

  • Developing a traceable quantum waveform generator based on a programmable Josephson voltage standard correcting the output from an ultra-stable DAC. This is suitable for NMIs calibrating ADC used in power and power quality parameter measurements important in smart grids, Digital Multimeters (DMMs), thermal converters, and the DAC that provide traceability for digital impedance bridges.
  • Writing ‘Good Practice Guide on the operation of AC quantum voltage standards’, targeted at the NMI and industrial communities. This is intended for both industrial and National Metrology Laboratories who wish to invest in the development of a quantum standard for alternating voltage based on the Josephson effect.
  • Creating a group to promote greater collaboration and increased co-ordination in the development of European AC Quantum Voltage standards. As well as consortia members preparing to develop AC Quantum Standards, its members are experts in array fabrication, cryogenics, software development, AC measurements, impedance measurements, uncertainty estimation and quantum standards.  The group was proposed as a working group of the EURAMET Technical Committee for Electricity and Magnetism.  

The results of this project are used in the current EMPIR project ‘A digital traceability chain for AC voltage and current’ (17RPT03, DIG-AC).


This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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