Better Care

Dancing with bubbles exhibition at Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry

Dancing Bubbles brings together scientists and artists from the University of Birmingham to enter the world of cavitation bubbles.

The Open Wide exhibition space is part of the joint BCHC Birmingham Dental Hospital  and University of Birmingham School of Dentistry Dental Pulse project. The project is aiming to add more character to the beautiful new hospital building. The exhibition space features research going on in the hospital and displays historical, artistic and scientific aspects of that research. 

The current exhibition is the 6th one. The exhibitions change approximately every three months to allow for a continually changing display and point of interest. This micro exhibition space is located in the foyer of the dental hospital and is fully accessible. A visit might last a few minutes or a little longer and is easily accommodated in the 20min free parking available at the hospital – don’t forget to log your car out though! 

Dr Nina Vyas is a biomedical engineer researching how bubbles can clean teeth. Cavitation bubbles are microbubbles which rapidly grow and collapse. When they collapse, they release forces which can clean plaque from teeth. Thousands of bubbles act as tiny scrubbers across the surface. Nina has created video art from high speed images of cavitation bubbles taken during research in the laboratory.

Emma Margetson, a local sound artist and composer, has created an electroacoustic composition/soundscape to support the video art. This is inspired by the cavitation bubbles and Nina’s research, with sound recordings of dental equipment and the laboratory providing the source material for the work.  Emma will also be delivering a sound workshop on 31st October which will explore dental equipment and microbubbles through the medium of sound.

Cavitation bubbles form high speed microjets which hit the surface at high speed. Shockwaves are produced and emanate from the bubbles during their collapse. Nina has worked with potter John Chamberlain at Sundragon pottery to create ceramic art inspired by the bubble structures observed during her research.

Carl Banbury has produced a 3D printed sculpture created from a stack of high speed images, showing the bubbles at the tip of an ultrasonic scaler, an instrument used by dental professionals to clean teeth.

People involved:

Dr Nina Vyas is a biomedical engineer in the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham. She researches cavitation bubbles using high speed imaging to understand how they break up dental plaque and how they could clean teeth and dental implants. She has created the ceramic artwork depicting cavitation bubbles and the video art from high speed images she has taken during her research.

Dancing with bubbles

John Chamberlain is a potter and teacher at Sundragon Pottery in Birmingham. He has created some of the ceramic sculptures which depict the shockwaves and micro jets produced by the cavitation bubbles.

Emma Margetson is a composer of acousmatic music based in Birmingham, UK. She is currently studying for a PhD in Electroacoustic Composition at the University of Birmingham funded by the AHRC Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. Her works have been performed across the UK and internationally, including performances in Mexico, Italy, Poland, Germany and Greece, She has created an electroacoustic composition using close-up microphone recordings of dental equipment recorded in the dental laboratory. This musical work supports the video art within the exhibition.

Carl Banbury is a physicist and PhD student working in Advanced Nanomaterials Group at the University of Birmingham. He does interdisciplinary research using imaging, image analysis and 3D printing. He has 3D printed the sculpture of cavitation bubbles around an ultrasonic scaler.

Professor Damien Walmsley is the head of the Ultrasonics research group in the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham and the principal investigator of the cavitation research project. He is also one of the leading photographers in Birmingham and his work has been featured in international media including the Huffington Post. He will be on the judging panel of the Instagram photo contest, where the winning images will be displayed in the open wide exhibition.

Vyas, N., Pecheva, E., Dehghani, H., Sammons, R. L., Wang, Q. X., Leppinen, D. M., & Walmsley, A. D. (2016). High speed imaging of cavitation around dental ultrasonic scaler tips. PloS one, 11(3), e0149804.

Vyas, N., Sammons, R. L., Addison, O., Dehghani, H., & Walmsley, A. D. (2016). A quantitative method to measure biofilm removal efficiency from complex biomaterial surfaces using SEM and image analysis. Scientific reports, 6, 32694.