The Centre For Water Research

Past CWR Seminars

CWR Seminar: The Amazing Cavitation Bubble: from Ship Propellers to Medical Supertools.
Date 04/03/2015 at 16:00:00

[view webcast]
Venue Blakers Lecture Room, Ground Floor, Mathematics Building, The University of Western Australia.
Speaker Professor Christopher Brennen, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, California Institute of Technology

We generally think of bubbles as benign and harmless and yet they can manifest the most remarkable range of physical effects. Some of those effects are the stuff of our every day experience as in the tinkling of a brook or the sounds of breaking waves at the beach. But even these mundane effects are examples of the ability of bubbles to gather, focus and radiate energy (acoustic energy in the above examples). In other contexts that focusing of energy can lead to serious technological problems as when cavitation bubbles eat great holes through ships’ propeller blades or cause a serious threat to the integrity of the spillways at the Hoover Dam.

In liquid-propelled rocket engines bubbles pose a serious threat to the stability of the propulsion system and in artificial heart valves they can cause serious damage to the red-blood cells. In perhaps the most extraordinary example of energy focusing, collapsing cavitation bubbles can emit not only sound but also light with black body radiation temperatures equal to that of the sun.

But, harnessed carefully, this ability to focus energy can also be put to constructive use. Cavitation bubbles are now used in a remarkable range of surgical and medical procedures, for example to emulsify tissue (most commonly in cataract surgery or in lithotripsy procedures for the reduction of kidney and gall stones) or to manipulate the DNA in individual cells.

By creating cavitation bubbles non-invasively and thereby depositing and focussing energy non-intrusively, one can generate minute incisions or target cancer cells. This lecture will begin by ranging over some of the fundamentals of cavitation and will end with a vision of the new horizons for the amazing bubble, in the process ranging from ship's propellers to medical supertools.

PS* This seminar is free and open to the public & no RSVP required.

****All Welcome****

Facilitator Clelia Marti
Organiser Askale Abebe
Student Host Maria de la Paz Vilas

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