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The Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (I.N.RI.M.), established by Government Decree no. 38/2004, a result of the merger between the Istituto di Metrologia Gustavo Colonnetti (IMGC) and the Istituto Elettrotecnico Nazionale Galileo Ferraris (IEN), became fully operative on January 1st 2006 when its bylaws came into force.

INRIM is a national public body whose aims are to develop and promote scientific research in the fields of metrology, to act as a National Metrological Institute, a legacy received from the IMGC and IEN - ionising radiation metrology excluded - according to Law no. 273/1991 which established the national calibration system, and to exploit and disseminate measurement science and knowledge of materials.

At its first meeting the Board of Directors appointed the Vice-president and Director General as well as the head of the Laboratory Accreditation System. The delay in designating Scientific Council members, however, obliged the Board of Directors to delay the appointment of the Council to March 31st. Thereafter the Court of Auditors appointed the authority with responsibility for controlling the Institute, whereas the Evaluation Committee was appointed definitively only at the beginning of 2007.

The Director of Department was appointed with a considerable delay, in May 2007. As a consequence, although a number of four Department Divisions were proposed and approved by the end of 2006, the appointment of the Division Officers was only possible at the end of June and only later still, with the appointment of the Department Council, will normal operation be possible. The Divisions (Electromagnetism, Mechanics, Optics and Thermodynamics) have been conceived on a discipline basis. Other structures are envisaged, however, spanning the Divisions, in order to set up effective interfaces with the main topics of interest for the European Community and national programmes. Administration and General Services too provided the identify its own sectors and offices and to appoint responsibilities.

While the organisation process was going on, albeit with difficulty, the scientific and technical activities proceeded with particular attention to some important events and prospects. As far as basic research is concerned, the defence of the positions of excellence attained and the singling out of new initiatives have been the main obligations. Over past decades research in metrology has often exploited physical phenomena in which fundamental constants, quantum mechanics, nanotechnology and materials science play an essential role. The first guarantees space and time invariance of standards, while the other disciplines allow measurement resolution and accuracy that are otherwise not attainable.

Of these challenges, that are also recognised at international and European level, INRIM has paid particular attention to research into optical frequency standards, a new low temperature Cs fountain and the determination of the fundamental constants NA, R and kB, also by favouring possible international and national co-operation. In addition, new measurement methodologies in optics and the measurement process in quantum mechanics for its implications in quantum computing and cryptography have been studied. In the meantime at the beginning of 2007 INRIM joined EURAMET e.V., an association of European Metrology Institutions, and is now working in view of the results of a special call in ERA NET Plus, already opened by the European Community. Moreover INRIM aims to exploit the opportunities offered by the Regione Piemonte research announcements in which INRIM participated carefully and will continue in this direction, in co-operation with Universities, other public research institutions and industries located in the region to promote technological transfer from laboratories to firms. INRIM maintains its applied research engagements with ESA, ASI, and Torino Time Consortium (CTT). CTT's aims are to establish in Torino a location of excellence for the technologies concerning time measurement and certification of the European satellite system Galileo. CTT has been selected by ESA to provide the realisation of the Precise Time Facility.

Elio Bava
Torino, July 2007