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A ‘Dynamic Kibble’ mass balance for the undergraduate physics teaching laboratory

Glover, Paul M; Milner, Conor; Rambabu, Ashwin; Varley, Deborah

A ‘Dynamic Kibble’ mass balance for the undergraduate physics teaching laboratory Thumbnail


Associate Professor

Conor Milner

Ashwin Rambabu


Originally envisaged in 1975 to realise the SI unit of electrical current, the Ampere, the Kibble balance has since developed into a powerhouse of modern scientific measurement. By combining theoretical simplicity with precision of measurement, it has enabled the redefinition of Planck’s constant, and subsequently a practical method of defining the kilogram in terms of fundamental constants. This article introduces a novel version of this classic apparatus, the ‘Dynamic Kibble’ Balance. Dynamic in this case because the magnet velocity is now 3 orders of magnitude higher than the original, but the same theory applies. The apparatus is simple in approach, robust, easy to set up, and capable of a high level of precision using only electrical measurements (plus length and time). The importance of this measurement to metrology re-enforces the link between what is measured in the laboratory via calibration, measurement standards, and traceability. Using the apparatus and measurements described in this paper, the mass of the magnet assembly was measured as 19.4 ± 0.3 g, which lies within one SEM of the known value. This paper describes an uncomplicated method with a clear focus on the key physics and theory required. This experiment is intended for use in a first-year undergraduate physics laboratory. Further potential for both more advanced theory demonstration and experimental work is discussed.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2022
Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Deposit Date Nov 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 4, 2022
Journal European Journal of Physics
Print ISSN 0143-0807
Electronic ISSN 1361-6404
Publisher IOP Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 1
Article Number 015201
Keywords General Physics and Astronomy
Public URL
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