Indian-American Sumita Mitra won the 2021 European Inventor Award for integrating nanotechnology in dental materials. Her innovation will help to create stronger and more aesthetically pleasing fillings.
The award is given by the European Patent Office (EPO) and is awarded for exceptional inventions in Europe and outside. Sumita received the honour in the "Non-European Country" category.
The New Indian Express reported that finalists and winners in categories Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement were selected by an independent jury.
What Is The Invention?
"Sumita Mitra took an entirely new path in her field and demonstrated how technological innovation, protected by patents, can transform a sector, and in this case bring benefits to millions of dental patients," said EPO President António Campinos according to The Tribune.
While working with American firm 3M, Sumita discovered the limitation of material used in fillings. She started exploring an emerging tech of the time- nanotechnology, and how it could be used in dentistry.
Mitra used her expertise in polymer chemistry. She worked with her team to develop a material called nanoclusters along. It is a cluster of nanoparticles that are formed by combining a single nanoparticle of varying diameters that creates a durable and shiny substance. When tiny amounts of pigments are added to nanoclusters, it results in a product that matches the colour of teeth for a natural filling.
Who is Sumita Mitra?
Sumita Mitra worked with the oral care division of 3M, where she developed the nanotech filling. After retiring in 2010, Mitra, with her husband, founded Mitra Chemical Consulting. She provides Consultancy services in technology and product development in chemical sciences, including dental materials and nanotechnology.
She has received multiple awards including American Chemical Society "Heroes of Chemistry Award" in 2009 and IADR Peyton Skinner Award in 2012 according to her website.
In 2018, Mitra was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame followed by getting elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2021.