BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A University at Buffalo professor who has
garnered more than 140 patents for power sources for tiny
biomedical devices now is working to develop batteries that could
power much larger devices, such as electric vehicles.
Esther Takeuchi, Ph.D., Greatbatch Professor in Power Sources
Research in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,
invented the tiny batteries that have helped make implantable
cardiac defibrillators and other medical devices a life-saving
She now is applying that expertise to power source issues key to
developing electric vehicles and alternative energy storage
"The fundamental work we do is directly applicable to EV
(electric vehicle) work," said Takeuchi, who teaches "Battery
Function and Use," a senior-level undergraduate course at UB.
"We are looking at properties such as improving battery
rechargeability and decreasing battery weight while boosting power,
both of which are absolutely necessary to the development of
electric vehicles and energy storage devices," she said.
One innovative approach her lab is taking involves developing
nanostructured metal oxide materials for use in batteries using
light-weight, supported structures, which still have very high
"The idea is that by increasing the number of sites that
transfer electrons, the electroactive sites on the cathode, we can
increase the amount of electron and ion transfer while reducing the
distances those electrons or ions have to travel," said Takeuchi.
"This allows for a faster response and higher power density."
Takeuchi is exploring ways to address the key challenges common
to developing the next generation of energy storage devices for a
broad range of applications.
"We are looking at ways to address issues of power, stability
versus temperature, voltage, lifetime and, of course, the biggest
challenge: cost," she said.
She noted that part of the challenge of adapting batteries to
electric vehicles is that they will require not just one battery,
"The challenge there is to develop a low-cost electronic system
capable of efficiently coordinating and controlling them," she
In addition to the importance of developing batteries for
electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, Takeuchi pointed out that a
broad range of novel technologies and applications require better
"There's no doubt that energy storage is critical to the further
development of alternative forms of power, such as solar and wind,
which are intermittent energy sources," she said. "Therefore, they
need a way to store the energy that they generate."
Some applications for homeland security that rely on sensors
will also require more efficient and portable power sources, which
Takeuchi said is already generating additional interest from
federal funding agencies.
"I believe we will see an increase in the level of attention
paid to batteries and energy storage devices in this administration
as we move forward," she said.
Currently, as part of the UB initiative in biomedical
engineering, Takeuchi and her colleagues also are working with
researchers at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to
explore how new concepts for medical devices they developed could
Takeuchi is a member of the faculty advisory board of the
strategic strength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems identified
in the UB 2020 planning process, which brings together researchers
in the life sciences, medicine and engineering to promote
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