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For her work in the development of battery technologies for human health that have saved millions of lives, Esther Sans Takeuchi is this year’s winner of the E. V. Murphree Award.
Takeuchi is professor in both the materials science and engineering department and the chemistry department at Stony Brook University, in New York. She also holds a joint appointment as chief scientist for the Global & Regional Solutions Directorate at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, N.Y. She is most widely recognized for her development of the lithium/silver vanadium oxide (Li/SVO) battery used to power implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs).
Doctors implant about 300,000 ICDs each year. The devices monitor heart rhythms and deliver heart-regulating shocks to interrupt life-threatening arrhythmias. The Li/SVO battery produces about 1 million times the energy of the previous state-of-the-art lithium-iodine pacemaker battery.
“The battery designed by Dr. Takeuchi was the essential power source technology needed to bring the ICD from concept to reality,” says an industry colleague who worked alongside Takeuchi during her career at the Greatbatch Medical battery research and development group. The battery “remains a leading power source 20 years after its introduction,” he adds.
Takeuchi also contributed to the improvement of other medical battery technologies including the lithium-thionyl chloride and lithium-carbon monofluoride batteries used to power cardiac pacemakers and drug delivery systems. And she has helped advance rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in neurostimulator and left ventricular assist devices.
Takeuchi received her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Ohio State University in 1981. She did postdoctoral research in electrochemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and at the University at Buffalo, in New York (UB).
Takeuchi joined Greatbatch in 1984 as a senior chemist and held a series of increasingly important jobs, becoming chief scientist in 2006. She became the Greatbatch Professor of Advanced Power Sources at UB in 2007 and joined Stony Brook and Brookhaven Lab in June 2012.
With more than 150 patents to her credit and more pending, USA Today has called her the most prolific female inventor in the U.S. She also has published more than 60 articles in refereed journals, which is “impressive for work in an industrial setting where the ability to publish was severely restricted due to confidentiality,” says a colleague.
Takeuchi received the National Medal of Technology & Innovation in 2009 from President Barack Obama. The medal is the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the President on leading U.S. innovators. In 2011 she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. She was also elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004 and named a fellow of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering in 1999.
Takeuchi recently completed her term as president of the Electrochemical Society. In addition, she is a member of ACS and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Takeuchi will present the award address before the ACS Division of Energy & Fuels.