La Rivista del Nuovo Cimento (1978-1999)

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 1–23 | Cite as

The Avogadro constant

  • G. Mana
  • G. Zosi


The ubiquitous character ofN A has been described by summarizing the results obtained in different periods with different methods and by illustrating in more detail the X-ray crystal-density method. A careful analysis of the quantities involved demonstrates that the search for systematic errors is endless. At present, metrological laboratories are engaged in reducing the relative uncertainty from the 10−7 to the 10−8 level or better. If this could be achieved, a new definitionà la Maxwell of the mass unit, and the relevant realization, would be feasible. However, the main justification, to continue devoting human and financial resources, lies within a wider framework. The loop starts with the observation that fundamental constants were the foundations on which Science rested when solid-state physicists, in the forties and fifties, developed the transistor, a significant step in computer technology. The subsequent increasing demand from the micro-electronics industry led to the production of near-perfect silicon monocrystals which were instrumental in the realization of X-ray interferometry; this new kind of interferometry, in its turn, triggered substantial improvements which led to a more accurate value ofN A . The loop closes with the observation thatN A , as a result of the continuous interaction between Physics and Technology, has contributed to strengthening the edifice of the fundamental constants.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Fisica 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Mana
    • 1
  • G. Zosi
    • 2
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Metrologia “G. Colonnetti”CNRTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Fisica Generale “A. Avogadro”Universitá di TorinoTorinoItaly

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