Indian-American chemist Sumita Mitra has won one of Europe’s most prestigious innovation prizes for her pioneering use of nanotechnology in dentistry to produce stronger and more aesthetically pleasing fillings which are now used by dentists around the world. Mitra won European Inventor Award 2021 in the “Non-EPO countries” category.
This researcher found that nanoclusters could be used in dentistry, resulting in robust, durable, and aesthetically pleasing fillings, the European Patent Office (EPO) said. Mitra used the emerging research field of nanotechnology to explore new developments that will help dentistry. Along with her team, she developed a technique for creating linked clusters of nanoparticles, termed ‘nanoclusters’. Her material overcomes many limitations of previous dental composites, which were either too weak to be used on biting surfaces or quickly lost their polish. These tiny clusters have been used in one billion dental restorations worldwide. “The use of nanotechnology gave me the opportunity to make a new material,” Mitra said, adding: “It restores people’s smiles and improves their lives.” She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2021 for her work and invention in nanotechnology in the dental field and was also inducted in the US National Inventor Hall of Fame.