Wednesday was another busy day at the 4th International Conference on Ceramics. In addition to plenary and invited speaker sessions, there were several activities at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. I will try to touch upon some of the day’s highlights in this blog.
Because I am a biomedical engineering major with a strong interest in biomaterials, I decided to spend most of my day at the Biology and Medicine tracks. The speakers in these sessions spoke about a variety of materials and processes relating to orthopaedic and dental applications.
In the morning Biology and Medicine track, invited speaker Edgar Zanotto from the Federal University of São Carlos discussed highly bioactive silicate-based glass-ceramics. Zanotto was followed by Serena Best from the University of Cambridge who spoke about improving the bioactive properties of hydroxyapatite through ionic substitutions. I thought it was very interesting that the two competing glass systems were presented back-to-back and that both systems had a definite place in orthopaedic applications.
In the afternoon session, Richard Rusin from 3M gave a very good overview of nanoceramics in dentistry. In addition to covering some of the basic science involved, he gave real-world examples of where his company made improvements in dental care with its products. Also during this session, Jean Baptiste (JB) Lafon from 3dceram discussed his company’s use of a stereolithography process to make complete 3D ceramics parts; these parts have been used in clinical studies to help repair damage to patients’ skulls. As an engineer with a background in manufacturing, I appreciated how Lafon addressed some of the practical concerns with making these parts, such as the need for supports during the heat treatment process to prevent part distortion.
David Bem from the Dow Chemical Company was the afternoon plenary speaker. His talk resonated with me because it addressed the basic economics of technology development. Bem stressed that understanding the fundamental limits of a technology is critical when deciding whether or not to fund research. Bem used topical examples such as solar energy development and hybrid automotive technology to drive his point home. Although his talk was very general and not specific to ceramics, I enjoyed his presentation thoroughly.
In the evening, ICC4 attendees had the pleasure of a tour of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was impressed with the art that I saw there, which included the works of many famous artists, such as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. During the tour, museum staff gave brief lectures on topics pertaining to the art housed at the institute.
Following the tour, ICC4 president, Katherine Faber, addressed the conference attendees. During her address, she was presented with mementos to commemorate her leadership and contributions to this year’s conference.
The dinner gave everyone a chance to relax and talk with fellow conference attendees. I was seated with a very nice group at my dinner table. To my left were Brooke Barta and her mother, Debbie. Readers of Monday’s blog will know that Barta is a graduate student from the Georgia Institute of Technology that I had met earlier in the week. To my right were Nathan Taylor and Eongyu Yi, graduate students from the University of Michigan that participated at the conference’s Interactive Technology Forum. Across the table were Cheryl Brayman and Kristopher Benson from Ceradyne, Incorporated. Ceradyne makes a variety of ceramic products including ballistic armor for US troups and is a corporate sponsor of ICC4.
It’s been a very exciting week with more great things to come. My next blog will include Thursday’s activities and some parting thoughts on ICC4.