News Service


Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa --

Ultrasound might take the bite out of dental exam pain
The days of dental patients wearing lead vests during x-rays and biting down on stiff plastic cards may soon be over. William Lord, Palmer Chair in Electrical Engineering and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Iowa State University, is working on a new examination technique using ultrasonic waves.

Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE), used extensively in industry for detecting and characterizing flaws in critical engineering structures, could also be used in dentistry. Lord and two former graduate students used a finite element computer code, developed for NDE work, to study ultrasonic wave propagation in dental structures. The team created a three-layer tooth-phantom based on the geometry of a human's second molar that included a gold crown, an amalgam restoration insertion and a cavity. Results, which were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Dentistry Research, clearly show the finite element code's ability to predict and visualize ultrasonic wave propagation in complex dental structures.

"The primary reasons why an ultrasonic technique would be more advantageous than the x-ray technique are that it would not cause the patient any discomfort, and ultrasonic waves -- when used at low sound intensity levels -- do not cause any health risks to the patient or operator," Lord said. For more information, contact Lord at (515) 294-4010, or Mitch Mihalovich, Engineering Communications, (515) 294-4344.

Iowa State is in pole position for Sunrayce 99
The Iowa State University student solar car team has the pole position in Sunrayce 99, a 1,340 mile solar car race from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Fla., June 20 - 29. Iowa State's car, PrISUm Phoenix, won the pole position in this month's Sunrayce qualifiers, which were held at the General Motors proving grounds, Milford, Mich.

"We are very happy to be in the number one slot," said Team PrISUm director Allen Ihlefeld. "We worked very hard to be prepared for the qualifiers and we are working hard to be prepared for the Sunrayce. We think we have a great design for our car and we have tested its durability with two months of test driving."

So far, 17 solar car teams have qualified for Sunrayce 99. The top five are: Iowa State; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Ind.; University of Missouri, Rolla; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; and Kansas State University, Manhattan. The field of 40 cars will be filled out at "last chance" qualifiers just prior to Sunrayce 99. Sunrayce is an on-going educational program that culminates in a biennial cross-country race of solar-powered cars. The program is open to colleges, universities, trade schools and other post-secondary educational institutions. For more information, contact Ihlefeld at (515) 294-0899, or Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917.

A big deal
Brian Berg, who received an architecture degree from Iowa State University in 1997, is trying to regain his tallest house of cards world record. Berg is working in the atrium of the ISU College of Design on a house of cards that must be at least 113 stories (roughly 22 feet) tall. Berg has already set up scaffolding and is at work on the structure. This is Berg's 11th world record attempt (he has held the record 9 times since 1992). To qualify as a world record, the structure must be built from standard, commercially available cards. The cards cannot be altered in any way. No methods of adhesive attachment are allowed. The house of cards also must be free standing and self supporting.

Berg has turned his expertise into a profession and has built card structures all over the country and in Japan and Denmark. Berg is slated to complete his newest effort by June 1. It comes down shortly after its completion in what Berg describes as "an incredible act of gravity." Contact Steve Sullivan, ISU News Service, (515) 294-3720.

Network will support computational materials science research
Bruce Harmon is combining people power with computer power to make better materials with more desirable properties. Harmon, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University, helped create and is one of the coordinators for the Computational Materials Sciences Network (CMSN). The network, funded through DOE's Basic Energy Sciences office, was launched in February at an organizational workshop that brought together scientists from government labs, academia and industry to identify materials projects that could best be pursued through broad cooperative efforts.

"The materials science community has always operated in very small groups," Harmon said. "But larger, more complex problems require interdisciplinary teams. CMSN provides a means to coalesce and, if not speak with one voice, to work together where there's mutual interest in solving significant problems." For more information, contact Harmon at (515) 294- 5772, or Saren Johnston, (515) 294-3474.

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