@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

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Up Front: Letters to and from the editor
Campus Currents: UCSD Stories
Shelf Life: Books
Cliff Notes: Student life and sports
Class Notes: Alumni profiles
Campaign Update: Imagine the Future
Looking Back: Thoughts on UCSD
Credits: Staff and Contributors

Dr. Watson, I Presume
The Intimidata
Mao's China
Killer Tomatoes
On The Job: Critics

Making Waves
Bullet-Proof Teeth
Optical Origami
800-Eye Superfly
Not So Happy Feet
Wakonda's Dreamcatcher
Methane Monsters

Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Bullet-Proof Teeth


Vistasp Karbhari has a job any playful child would love. A professor of structural engineering, he breaks things for a living. He and his colleagues at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering use mammoth machines to bend, pummel, pound and shake man-made structures. Their goal is to understand how roads, buildings and bridges break, then use that knowledge to better reinforce those structures against earthquakes, bomb blasts and other assaults.

But it was bridges of another kind that recently caught Karbhari’s attention—dental bridges. An expert in applying fiber-reinforced polymer composites as strong, lightweight materials for aerospace, automotive and other industrial applications, Karbhari is now using polyethylene fibers, of the type used in bullet-proof vests, in dental composites.
Dentists use fibers in dental composites as part of restorations, crowns and bridges, and Karbhari recently measured the toughness and resistance to breakage of three types of fiber-reinforced dental composites.

In a paper published in Dental Materials, Karbhari reported that braided polyethylene fibers performed the best, boosting toughness by up to 433 percent compared to the composite alone. It adds a whole new dimension to the old catch-a-bullet-in-your-teeth act.

Contributors to Making Waves: Mario Aguilera, '89, Rex Graham, Raymond Hardie, Debra Kain, Daniel B. Kane, Kim McDonald


UCSD Press Release

Vistasp Karbhari's Faculty Profile

UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering