Hailed as the Time Keeper of India CSIR-NPL, provides the Indian Standard Time (IST), steadfastly promoting Metrology, the science of measurement and its application, and accuracy and precision through the ensuing decades post -Independence.

National Physical Laboratory: NPL, New Delhi

National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one among the two scientific institutes established in the country under the aegis of CSIR in 1950. Over the years, the NPL also known as the National Measurement Institute of (NMI) India has more than realized its primary mandate as the keeper of measurement standards for the nation while also substantially expanding its research activities to emerge as a leading national institution for research in a whole gamut of areas in the Physical Sciences.

Metrology is one of the key components in improving product quality which in turn affects quality of life. For instance, home appliances have to meet certain specifications in terms of acoustic noise, mechanical dimensions, pressure, electrical voltages and consumption.

A scientist stands in front of the Microarcsecond Metrology (MAM) testbed.


Metrology and calibrated instruments are a must for judging the conformance to specifications. Chemical metrology and physical metrology is essential for controlling the pollutions, similarly it enables biomedical arena. Standards play a key role in Metrology.

CSIR realizing its importance was the first to establish CSIR-NPL- a dedicated laboratory for carrying out metrological activities by establishing apex level standards.

NPL through the government is part of the Metre Convention, a diplomatic treaty which was signed by representatives of 17 countries in Paris in 1875. The treaty created the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

An intergovernmental organization under the authority of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM).India had signed this treaty in 1957.


CSIR-NPL has successfully established equivalence with international standards. All other reference and working standards in other laboratories and industries throughout India are required to be traceable to the National Standards of Measurements maintained at the NPL.

The focus area of CSIR-NPL are on metrology arerealization of Base & Derived Units; Apex Level Calibration of physico-mechanical and electrical & electronic standards; and chemical metrology.

Few of the milestones for metrological activities carried out by NPL India include the introduction of the metric system in India ; Law of Weights and Measures promulgated (Re-issued in 1976, 1988), India joining the Meter Convention, ‘Apex Metrology Laboratory’, a highly controlled environment building for apex level measurements in 2015.

Currently CSIR-NPL provides apex calibration of equipments to various industries, strategic, academia and government agencies to the tune of six crore per year which is likely to double over the next five years. Such calibrations at CSIR-NPL are key drivers toImage result for CSIR make in india the growth engine of industries and assumes utmost significance for ensuring the success of “Make in India” mission. Accurate and precise measurements would also support Indian industry and business to innovate. This would require up-gradation of existing calibration facilities at CSIR-NPL, for which work is already underway in full swing.

The main objective of division of apex level calibration at CSIR-NPL is, realization, establishment, custody, maintenance, dissemination and upgradation of the national standards in the field of physico-mechanical and electrical and electronics standards and time and frequency standard.

In India, the research on solar cells is being pursued in various scientific laboratories and industries; however, there is no facility for the validation of solar cell efficiency. CSIR-NPL has taken up an initiative for setting up a ‘National Facility’ for validation of solar cell efficiency with the maximum possible accuracy.

Image result for Swasthya Bharat

Similarly, the calibrations of biomedical equipments are essential for correct diagnosis as well as treatment of the patients. This will contribute greatly to the cause of “Swasthya Bharat” mission.

On the environment front, CSIR-NPL has recently developed the 2.5 PPM sampler and it will be first of its kind in India to provide accurate and traceable measurement facility.

CSIR-NPL foresees that the quantum technologies will deliver game-changing applications ranging from faster communications to cancer detection and navigation, which will be vital to improve lives and creation of new businesses.  CSIR-NPL is gearing up its existing “Quantum Metrology” laboratory that will provide world-class measurement expertise to validate the new quantum technologies and secure the India’s position in this emerging field “Sashakt  Bharat”.

Many government and semi-government as well private sector entities have benefitted from CSIR-NPL’s support, advices and calibrations. These include Air Force, Air India, Bharat Electronics , BHEL; Bhilai Steel Plant; Bureau of Indian Standards, Defense Electronics Applications Laboratory and several prominent private sector companies.csir

*This Feature has been received from CSIR (Unit for Science Dissemination), Ministry of Science & Technology, New Delhi.