College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison
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EPISODE: The Engineering Physics Department Newsletter


Fall / Winter 2005-2006
Featured articles

Advances may enable on-the-spot prostate cancer treatment

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING: New method calms unruly plasmas, cleans reactors

Engineers help turn science into interactive exhibits

CAD interface boosts modeling efficiency

BIG discoveries on a small scale

Innovative recycling project could reduce U.S. inventory of spent nuclear fuel

Regular Features

Message from the chair

Faculty News /
In the News

Alumni News:
Susan L. Reinhold receives Distinguished Achievement Award


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Assistant Professors Todd Allen and Paul Wilson were the guests on the University of the Air show that aired June 5 on Wisconsin Public Radio.

A story, “State spends big Homeland Security money in small places, perhaps not in proportion to threat,” in the Nov. 5 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quoted Professor Vicki Bier.

An August story in the New Republic about Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s security policies also quoted Bier.

The websites,, and were among those that ran stories about ultrananocrystalline diamond research for MEMS and NEMS by Associate Professor Rob Carpick and colleagues. 

A sidebar to the article, “Journey to Chernobyl,” from the spring 2005 issue of the UW-Madison alumni magazine On Wisconsin, included quotes from Professors Michael Corradini and Vicki Bier.

A story, “Fusion energy: Just around the corner,” in the July 21 issue of Nature, paraphrased comments by Steenbock Professor Ray Fonck.

Assistant Professor Paul Wilson was a guest on the 5 p.m. news Aug. 5 on Madison’s NBC 15 to discuss the recently passed energy bill.


In September, Assistant Professor Todd Allen chaired the Fuels, Materials, and Waste Forms working group commissioned by the Department of Energy Office of Science. The group evaluated research opportunities under the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative that have the potential to minimize waste and long-lived radioisotopes, and maximize energy output of advanced nuclear fuel cycles. Its report is a first step in defining a long-term advanced fuel cycle research program within the Office of Science.

Professor Vicki Bier has been appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Homeland Security Advisory Committee, which advises the EPA on general homeland security issues, including detecting, characterizing, responding to and mitigating contaminants in buildings and public venues; improving rapid-risk assessments for terrorismagents; and verifying performance technologies used to monitor and ensure drinking-water quality.

Professor Jake Blanchard received approximately $40,000 from the John & Jean Berndt Technology-Enhanced Learning Initiative to develop innovative teaching approaches. Working with Engineering Professional Development Faculty Associate Tom Smith and John Stremikis in UW-Extension/EPD information systems, Blanchard is developing course tools for delivering a Master of Engineering in Professional Practice course via handheld devices. The group plans to pilot its courses in spring 2006.

Associate Professor Rob Carpick and colleagues, including collaborators from Argonne National Laboratories, published research in the journal Advanced Materials that is integral to understanding problems associated with building lasting micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems, or MEMS and NEMS. For uses that require repetitive sliding or rolling, the researchers explored ultrananocrystalline diamond, rather than silicon, and found that creating an atomic “cap” of hydrogen on the diamond’s surface, -like varnish on a wood table-, makes it water-repellent—critical for micro- and nanoscale machines that run without lubrication.

Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Michael Corradini is chair of the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Engineering Education until 2008. In addition, he was named to the National Academies Board on Energy and Environmental Systems, which provides independent advice to the executive and legislative branches of government and the private sector on issues in energy and environmental technology and related public policy. It also mobilizes a wide range of expertise in engineering and the physical and social sciences. His term runs through 2008.

Working with Professor of Medicine Dennis Maki and Assistant Professor of Medicine Christopher Crnich, Associate Professor Wendy Crone and former student Jeremy Halfmann (BS ’04) published results in the Aug. 10 issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology that showed that a novel method that uses ethanol for disinfecting long-term intravascular devices over time should not have an adverse effect on their structural integrity. Crone and Halfmann conducted rigorous tests of two common catheter materials (polyurethane and silicone), locking them in a heated 70-percent ethanol solution for up to 72 days, and found little change in the materials’ mechanical behavior.

Via a $20 million National Science Foundation Network, Crone, who is director of education and outreach for the university’s NSF-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Nanostructured Materials and Interfaces, will lead an effort to work with some of the nation’s top science museums to create hands-on exhibits about nanotechnology. Building on ideas and topics from MRSEC research, Crone’s group will work most closely with the Science Museum of Minnesota, which will lead the Center for Exhibit and Program Production and Dissemination.

The Naval Research Laboratory awarded a one-year, $506,000 contract to the Fusion Technology Institute (FTI) to help design a chamber to contain small, repetitive thermonuclear explosions. The project continues four years’ worth of previously funded work and includes Grainger Professor and FTI Director Gerald Kulcinski, Professors Gregory Moses, Jake Blanchard, and Doug Henderson, Assistant Professor Paul Wilson, and Research Professors Mohamed Sawan and John Santarius.

Sandia National Laboratories has awarded the FTI a six-month, $265,000 contract to perform research on the design of an inertial confinement fusion reactor facility. The effort includes Kulcinski, Moses, Professor Dan Kammer and Associate Professor Riccardo Bonazza, Senior Scientist Laila El-Guebaly and Associate Scientist Mark Anderson.
Walter P. Kistler, President of the Lunar Transportation Systems Company, has donated $25,000 to the FTI to study lunar resource development. The gift supports FTI faculty, staff and student research focused on recovering solar wind volatiles from the lunar surface. Matthew Gajda, a graduate student in engineering physics, is designing a robotic mining unit for recovering hydrogen, water and Helium-3 from the surface of the moon.

Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Rod Lakes is among a group of three faculty members to receive a $1.1 million grant from the NSF Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) program. The four-year research program seeks to advance both the fundamental understanding of ultrasonic cavitation-based solidification processing of complex bulk Mg metal-matrix nanocomposite (Mg MMNC) materials and components and their processing, structure, and property relationships. Educational components of the program include multi-campus curriculum development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California-Davis and Georgia Institute of Technology. Outreach activities will expose more K-12 students, teachers and industries to nanotechnology. Lakes is collaborating with Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Xiaochun Li and Materials Science & Engineering Professor Sindo Kou.

Adjunct Professor Harrison Schmitt has authored a new book, Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space. According to one book description, he proposes in the book that we begin planning now to establish human outposts on the moon -not just as an exercise in technology and discovery, and not just as a way of fulfilling our destiny as explorers and pioneers. In this book, he focuses on a return to the moon as a business proposition. A member of the Apollo 17 mission, Schmitt is the 12th and most recent human to have stepped on the moon.

Senior Scientist Kumar Sridharan has been named a research professor. A researcher and educator at UW-Madison for more than 20 years, he is an expert in high temperature materials, corrosion and wear of materials, plasma-based processing and surface modification of materials, metallurgy, and advanced materials characterization. He serves on the editorial committees of the International Materials Reviews and Materials Engineering and Performance journals.


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Date last modified: Friday, 23-Dec-2005 11:49:00 CDT
Date created: 22-Dec-2005