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Details of the 1998 Watt Balance Experiment Determining the Planck Constant


Richard L. Steiner, David B. Newell, Edwin R. Williams


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) watt balance experiment completed a determination of Planck's constant in 1998 with a relative standard uncertainty of 87 x 10-9 (k = 1), concurrently with an upper limit on the drift rate of the SI kilogram mass standard. A number of other fundamental physical constants with uncertainties limited by this result are also calculated. This paper focuses on the details of the balance apparatus, the measurement and control procedures, and the reference calibrations. The alignment procedures are also described, as is a novel mutual inductance measurement procedure. The analysis summary discusses the data noise sources and estimates for the Type B uncertainty contributions to the uncertainty budget. Much of this detail, some historical progression, and a few recent findings have not been included in previous papers reporting the results of this experiment.


absolute watt measurement, electronic kilogram, electronic watt determination, fundamental physical constants, Planck constant, SI power measurement, SI watt unit, watt balance


Steiner, R. , Newell, D. and Williams, E. (1970), Details of the 1998 Watt Balance Experiment Determining the Planck Constant, Metrologia (Accessed February 29, 2024)
Created August 26, 2016, Updated January 27, 2020